- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The third-ranking House Republican said Tuesday that Congress will have to pass another short-term spending bill in the coming weeks because of Senate Democrats’ failure to act.

“Because of their lack of action and [Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.] 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 of California told reporters at a breakfast discussion sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed the delay on Senate Republicans, who he said are “reneging” on a deal to hold votes in the Senate on both the House proposal to cut $57 billion and a competing Democratic plan to cut $4.7 billion.

“It seems that Republicans themselves have finally read their own budget over here in the Senate, because now they’re even running from [the House bill] over here in the Senate,” Mr. Reid said.

Republican aides said the Senate will still vote this week on both proposals, neither of which is expected to get the 60 votes needed to pass. That will send both sides back to the negotiating table, facing a March 18 government shutdown deadline when the current temporary funding bill runs out.

Mr. McCarthy said the House is still waiting for the Senate to take some action. Republicans have also criticized the lack of input from the White House, symbolized, they say, by Mr. Biden holding an opening negotiating session with lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week and then leaving almost immediately for a scheduled three-nation European trip.

“Their move this week to finally bring up the bill is a good start,” the California Republican said. “But they have to decide where they are. …It would be nice because they are the majority [in the Senate] if they could take a position.”

He said House Republicans remain committed to cutting $60 billion from 2010 spending levels. Last week Congress passed a two-week spending bill that cut $4 billion, which was accepted by both Senate Democrats and President Obama.

Mr. McCarthy said House Republicans can keep doing short-term bills that gradually build up the size of the cuts.

“If we have to keep taking a bite to get to all the way to $61 [billion], that’s what you will see people do,” he said.

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