Republicans want you to know that they really, really don’t want a government shutdown. To try to avoid one, they will unveil today a temporary two-week spending bill that includes only cuts that President Obama and Congressional Democrats have already called for.
As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., put it on a conference call this morning with reporters, a government shutdown would be an unacceptable and irresponsible course of action for Washington lawmakers to take.
"A government shutdown is not an acceptable or responsible option for Republicans, and that's why we're producing yet another CR that will keep the government running for the next two weeks, while cutting spending, so that we can begin to live within our means just like every business and family throughout the country," Cantor said. "This will be our second action to prevent a shutdown, compared with no action by Senate leaders."
And so Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are now proposing a temporary spending bill to keep the government running for two weeks to allow for further negotiations with House and Senate Democrats on funding for the rest of the fiscal year. This temporary bill would extend government funding until midnight on March 18 and includes $4 billion in spending cuts.
"It's at a time when we in the federal government continue to borrow nearly 40 cents of every dollar we spend, and our debt exceeds $14 trillion. We hope the Senate is going to finally join us in these commonsense cuts to keep the government running, and not continue to play chicken with government shutdowns," Cantor said. "In November, people across the country overwhelmingly elected a Republican majority in the House because they were unhappy with the status quo in Washington. Unfortunately, the only plan that Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, have offered is the status quo that locks in current spending levels and does not cut one penny from current levels."
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already declared the House GOP’s latest proposal unacceptable, but that was before Republicans unveiled the details of their plan.
The specific cuts, which will be outlined by the House Appropriations Committee this afternoon, are designed to be hard for Democrats to resist. They will come from the proposed cuts wished for by President Obama in his 2012 budget and from earmarks – which both parties have now renounced – left over from 2010.
The House is back in session on Monday and is expected to complete debate and vote on the two week extension Tuesday.
"Republicans want to see the government continue, but we want to see spending cut," Cantor added.
Meanwhile, Democrats are putting together an alternative that also includes spending cuts. One idea under consideration is a temporary four-week spending bill that has the same $4 billion in cuts Republicans would like to make in two weeks.