Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee to vote against stopgap government funding plan
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee announced Wednesday morning that he will vote against a stopgap measure to keep the government funded through March 18 because it does not make deep enough cuts to federal spending.
"The proposal is a disappointing failure on the part of both parties to seriously address the economic meltdown we face from our massive deficit and growing national debt," Lee said in a statement. "While some have been patting themselves on the back for proposing $4 billion in so-called 'cuts', in reality, this bill fully funds billions upon billions of dollars in wasteful, duplicative programs that should be eliminated, reduced, or reformed."
The statement from Lee, a founding member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus and one of the most conservative members of the Senate's freshman class, makes him the first Republican senator to announce his opposition to the two-week stopgap measure, which would cut $4 billion from across federal agencies. The House passed the measure on Tuesday; all but six Republicans backed the measure, as did 104 Democrats.
Lee's opposition to the measure also puts him at odds with the Senate Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that his caucus was behind the two-week plan.
In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, McConnell reiterated his support for the stopgap plan, calling it "a small step, but it's a step in the right direction."
Lee took aim at the proposal as not taking bold enough action, charging that if the country's projected $1.6 trillion budget deficit for this year and its more than $14 trillion in debt don't force Congress to make deeper cuts, "then I have little patience for procedural games that kick the can an inch or two down the street."
"This is not the kind of legislation the people of Utah sent me to Washington to support and I cannot in good faith do so," Lee added.
The Senate is expected to vote on the measure at 11 a.m.; its passage would send the measure to President Obama for his signature.
| March 2, 2011; 10:18 AM ET
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