Prominent GOP lawmakers oppose stopgap budget bills

By Felicia Sonmez
Tuesday, March 15, 2011; 11:19 AM

A pair of prominent conservative Republicans declared their oppositon to the latest short-term budget bill on Monday, increasing the uncertainty about Congress's ability to maintain support for stopgap measures to avoid a government shutdown.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), a rising star in the 2010 GOP class, said he will oppose the latest legislation and any further short-term measures because he believes it is irresponsible to keep the government running in two- to three-week stints. Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), chairman of a conservative caucus with more than 170 Republicans, called for "swift action" in approving deeper spending cuts than those in the current proposal.

"With the federal government facing record deficits and a mammoth debt hanging over our economy and our future, we must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces," Jordan said in a statement.

The bill, which the House is slated to take up Tuesday, includes $6 billion in cuts for the remainder of 2011 and would keep most agencies open at last year's levels until April 8. It would be the sixth such stopgap measure since the fiscal year began Oct. 1. If passed, the bill would bring to $10 billion the total spending reductions approved this month.

House Republicans are pushing a budget plan that would slash $61 billion from agency spending, a figure Democrats oppose. The stopgap bills are a result of the deadlock.

"We agree that running the government two weeks at a time is not good for anyone, but it is the far right that is preventing any compromise on a long-term budget," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday.

House GOP aides privately expressed optimism that the interim bill will pass and that the Senate will approve it later this week. However, the opposition from Rubio and Jordan, both of whom supported the last two-week measure - which is keeping the government open until Friday - signaled that opposition is growing.

Lawmakers signaled Monday that each side is going to quickly lose support for keeping the government funded through piecemeal steps. "This will be an interesting challenge as we go forward. I think it will pass, and it will get us an additional three weeks. Then Speaker [John A.] Boehner, the majority leader [Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)] and the president are going to have to re-engage and try to get an ultimate solution for this year's spending," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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