House GOP Passes Budget Cuts; Senate Dems Say Not So Fast

$61B cuts House passed largely symbolic; Democrats in Senate have final say.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2011— -- During a nearly "all-nighter," and pressed by conservative freshmen, the Republican House kept a campaign promise when it approved a budget resolution for this year that would cut more than $61 billion, and would roll back several of President Obama's policies.

It was 4:40 Saturday morning that the party line vote of 235-189 was recorded. The depth of the cuts was pushed by 87 freshman Republicans, and they were embraced by all but three Republicans.

"These represent the largest cuts we've ever made," Arizona Republican Jeff Flake said on the House floor. "That's true, but this is also the biggest debt we've ever had."

The measure would eliminate funding for health care reform, Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Environmental Protection Agency would see its budget cut by a third.

In all, the budget includes a 12 percent cut in the funding of government agencies for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year.

Minority Democrats were left to fume in the early morning hours.

"This is a meat-ax approach on top of a meat-ax approach. It's a double meat-ax approach," Washington Democrat Norm Dicks said.

But there was little Democrats in the House could do.

The Senate will be a different story.

"Now that House Republicans have gotten this vote out of their system, I hope they will drop the threats of shutting down the government and work with the Senate on responsible cuts that allow our nation's economic recovery to continue," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Democrats in the Senate say they won't stand for some of the cuts approved in the House, and President Obama has promised a veto if the House bill were to reach his desk as is.

A deadline is looming. The government runs out of funding on March 4. If a bill is not approved by then, the government faces a shutdown.

"I think we're headed for some temporary government shutdowns and delays in raising the debt ceiling," Thomas Mann, a budget expert at the Brookings Institute, told ABC News.

"I think we're in for some really bumpy times," he said. "And what's sad about it is that the results, that is the shutdowns, the uncertainty about the debt limits, could do real harm to the economy while the cuts being talked about offer little in the way of upside, certainly with respect to dealing with the deficit."

The last time the government was shut down, in 1995, Republicans suffered political setbacks after their faceoff with Bill Clinton. Many want to avoid a re-run.

"Nobody's looking for a shutdown on our side of the aisle, certainly," Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said. "But Americans want reductions in spending, you can't keep going this way."

ABC News Political Director Amy Walter suggested that House leaders may now be telling the freshmen they got their victory and now is the time to keep the government going.

"I think the Republican leadership is probably sitting down with freshmen members right now and giving them a course in Washington reality," she said. "'You guys know we can only take this so far, the president is a Democrat, the Senate is controlled by Democrats and when you go and talk to voters in your next election you can tell them you made all these cuts, you voted for those cuts, and they can't take that away from you.'"

There isn't a lot of time before money runs out, and Congress is in recess next week.

Some on the Hill suggest when members return they may pass a short "continuing resolution," possibly for a month, to keep the government operating while the House and Senate negotiate.