Friday, March 18, 2011

Opposition to Stop Gap Measures Increases on the Hill

Although there isn’t necessarily much movement towards a compromise on a long term continuing resolution, there’s definitely a growing opposition to repeated stop gap spending measures. This includes an increased number of Republicans who voted against the resolution. In the Senate yesterday, for instance, 9 of the 13 Senators voting against the measure were Republicans (up from 5 who voted against the previous stop-gap measure). In the House, where the GOP has a sizable majority, there were 54 Republicans who revolted against their party’s leadership and voted against the measure.

While these numbers aren’t huge, there is a lot of buzz on the Hill about how this illustrates frustration with using short term spending bills. The problem that I’m seeing, however, is the plan and simple fact that everyone wants to avoid repeated stop gap measures but nobody appears to be incredibly optimistic about a potential compromise. Based upon what I’m hearing, this is largely because the GOP leadership isn’t willing compromise on the extreme cuts that were proposed in HR 1. Fortunately, Steny Hoyer and other members of the Democratic leadership has had enough and is beginning to call the Republicans out on their extreme positions.

“Over the course of the next three weeks, Democrats and Republicans must work together to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Democrats have shown that we are willing to cut spending as long as it does not hurt our economy or cost jobs. I hope Republicans show a similar willingness to compromise and work with us,” Hoyer said in a statement he released yesterday after the Senate passed the stop gap measure. “They cannot insist on extreme social policy riders that have no place in a debate on spending cuts, and they must come down from their reckless and economically damaging demand for $100 billion in spending cuts. After this week’s vote in the House, it is clear that if Republicans do not insist on inflammatory riders and make targeted and smart spending cuts, we will be able to reach a compromise.”

In other words, proposing a budget that would kick 218,000 kids out of Head Start, cause 284,000 people to lose their jobs helping in the transportation and infrastructure field, and do away with a program that helps homeless veterans is simply irresponsible and could have a devastating impact on our economy. When you combine that with how we have frequently heard about how continuously relying on stop gap measures can have a devastating impact on things like our military, it’s safe to say that something has to change.

The timing of the growing opposition to repeated stop gap measures also comes at an interesting time because members of the House are heading back to their districts for a week. Since this time will be used to meet with their constituents, it could present an opportunity for the American people to voice their opposition to the extreme cuts in the GOP proposal. If enough members of the GOP who are growing frustrated with the budget process listen to these demands for action, then we might see a legitimate revolt against their party’s leadership. I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if this district work week ended with members of both parties ready to come back and move forward with true negotiations.

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