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Senate set to kill parties’ competing spending-cut bills
Another short-term budget likely
House Republicans said Tuesday they will likely have to write another short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown on March 18, as a deal over funding the final seven months of the fiscal year remained elusive.
Senators are scheduled to vote Wednesday on two competing proposals: the House Republicans’ plan, which includes $57 billion in new cuts from 2010 spending levels, and the Senate Democrats’ proposal, which draws the line at $4.7 billion in new cuts. But both sides acknowledge those votes will be mostly to show that neither bill can pass.
But the path beyond those votes remains murky.
Neither side is prepared to give in, and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., tapped last week to lead negotiations, is out of the country.
With the current funding expiring on March 18, House Republicans said they lack faith the Senate will act in time. So they are preparing another short-term spending bill to keep the government open.
“Because of their lack of action and the vice president starting negotiations and then leaving the country, I think Republicans will be prepared in the House to do another two- or three-week [spending bill],” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told reporters at a breakfast discussion sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Mr. Reid, though, said he is opposed to more short-term measures.
All of the debate is over spending for the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 — more than five months ago.
The House, on the strength of Republican votes, passed a bill last month that cuts an additional $57 billion from 2010 spending levels. The Senate, though, has yet to pass a bill, and Mr. Reid has not yet scheduled the kind of free-flowing debate that could produce a bill on the Senate floor.
Part of the reason is that party leaders in the Senate are having a tough time corralling their members.
Conservative Republican senators want to see deeper cuts than the House bill, while less-conservative members of the GOP think the bill goes too far.
“Why are we doing all this when the most powerful person in these negotiations — our president — has failed to lead this debate or offer a serious proposal for spending and cuts that he would be willing to fight for?” Mr. Manchin said.
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