Sen. Tom Coburn (R) On Latest Short-Term Budget Bill: “I Say Take What We Can Get.”

Mar 17, 2011 4:20pm

ABC News' Amy Walter reports:

While plenty of conservatives are grumbling that the latest short-term budget bill doesn’t go far enough to slash government spending, two conservative Republicans told ABC’s “Top Line” today that they were happy just to see Congress make the cuts at all. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who voted this afternoon for the bill that 13 of his GOP colleagues voted against, told ABC’s Top Line “it's a rare event in Washington when we actually cut spending.” Freshman Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) also downplayed talk of a rift in the Republican conference over the pace and size of cuts saying “there may be differences of opinions but the bottom line is there is no, no problem that Speaker Boehner is facing. Everybody wants to cut spending.” Gardner voted earlier this week in support of the sixth short term continuing resolution to keep the government running, even as 22 of his freshman colleagues voted against it.

Just a few minutes ago, the Senate voted 87-13 to extend government funding for three more weeks, preventing a federal shutdown at the end of this week and buying lawmakers additional time to try to reach a long-term funding deal. The bill, which passed the House earlier this week, now goes to President Obama who has said he’ll sign it.

Coburn,  a member of President Obama’s deficit commission, told “Top Line” that while the cuts to government spending don’t go “near far enough” the “political reality is that we have a  Democratic president who’s not going to allow us” to do more. Instead of fighting the uphill battle, Coburn argues, “I say take what we can get, keep working at it, show that they really don’t want to run a responsible government and in the next election we'll have the votes to really make the cuts.”

Like Coburn, Gardner was happy to vote for a bill that represented just “the third time in the history of this country that we’ve cut spending.” He went on to say that while “we’ve cut $10 billion in spending, it’s not enough. We’ve got to do morebut at the end of the day we have got to put this country on a path toward a balanced budget and the only way we're going to do that is by shrinking the size of government.”

But, as ABC’s Matt Jaffe notes, even with the budget bill passed “the fight over the next spending measure has already begun.” Even so, Coburn and Gardner may be giving us an insight into the GOP strategy going forward. Take all the cuts you can get and declare victory. 

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