House moves forward on Republican plan to cut $61 billion
Updated: 4:15 p.m.
The House on Tuesday voted to proceed on a Republican-led plan that would cut $61 billion in spending across the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year in September.
The mostly partly-line vote was 242 in favor and 174 opposed. Eight Democrats, including five members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, joined most Republicans in voting to proceed; they were Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike Michaud (Maine), Bill Owens (N.Y.), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).
The 20 other Blue Dogs present voted against proceeding, a sign that most conservative Democrats are likely to oppose the GOP-led plan when it comes up for a final vote on Thursday.
Fifteen lawmakers did not vote, and two Republican members -- Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Steve King (Iowa) -- voted "present."
More than 400 amendments to the funding resolution had been filed as of Monday night, with more likely on the way Tuesday. Not all of the amendments will be discussed on the floor, but the fact that so many have been offered makes the outlook for the rest of the week somewhat chaotic.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to embrace that unpredictability in remarks on the House floor ahead of Tuesday's vote.
"I'm ready to expect whatever," Boehner said of the process ahead.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Senate Republicans are committed to the level of spending cuts that House GOP leaders have proposed for the current fiscal year, but may not endorse every detail of the House plan.
The government is currently being funded by a resolution passed by Congress late last year. That resolution is set to expire on March 4, meaning that the government will grind to a halt unless Congress agrees on a measure to continue funding it.
In a floor speech ahead of Tuesday's vote, King explained that he had asked the Rules Committee to ensure that his proposed amendment defunding the national health-care overhaul would be protected from any procedural points of order during the floor debate. But that request was rebuffed, King said, leading to his "present" vote.
"Even though I have great respect for all the members of the Rules Committee, and the tone and the tenor of the debate and dialogue in there could not have been better, the Rules Committee declined to do that, and I'm here on this floor now asking myself, 'how do I vote 'yes' on a rule that I so oppose?'" King said on the House floor.
Bachmann spokesperson Doug Sachtleben said that Bachmann "recognized Rep. King's right to offer that amendment, while also acknowledging that it was not made in order under House rules."
More importantly, Sachtleben added, Bachmann took issue with Democrats who passed the health-care overhaul last year and "designed its funding to come from mandatory sources instead of from the discretionary part of the budget, making it that much more difficult to defund this costly and unconstitutional legislation."
| February 15, 2011; 4:15 PM ET
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