What if Congress voted every two weeks on the budget?
The House is going forward with its proposed short-term extension of the Continuing Resolution (CR), as Majority Leader Eric Cantor made clear at a news conference yesterday:
As far as the CR is concerned, about ten days ago, we took the steps in the House to begin to get our fiscal house in order. We passed a CR that reduced spending back to '08 levels, and we did so in the hopes that we could avoid a government shutdown and deliver on the promise of reducing the size of government by cutting spending. It is very clear now where we sit. The House has acted. We don't support the status quo. Just like the voters said last November, they want to see a change here in Washington.
Thus far, in the Senate, Harry Reid seems to be doing nothing but supporting the status quo. There has been no action taken from the other side of the Capitol in the Senate. We are waiting anxiously to see that action.
We have also heard reports now and seen statements made by Leader Reid, Chuck Schumer and others over there, that they may be willing to entertain cuts. I think that is really good news. We have even seen some indication that the Senate would be willing to accept our proposal of $4 billion worth of cuts for a temporary two-week extension. And that is exactly what we will be bringing to the floor this week, which is a temporary extension of the CR that reflects a prorated amount from our larger bill that was passed two weeks ago. Again, this is $4 billion savings for two weeks.
But, as of last night, there had been no deal struck with Reid. Indeed, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner confirmed that there hadn't even been direct discussions with Reid.
A senior Republican adviser on the Senate side predicted: "We'll pass the two-week bill later in the week." What about the remainder of the 2011 budget and the proposed $61 billion in House cuts? "It's going to be a fight for the remainder," the adviser said.
But think about that. Wouldn't a fight every two weeks between Republicans wanting to cut spending and Democrats refusing to make cuts be a boon to the GOP? After all, the Democrats' calculation, namely that a week off in their districts would convince Republicans how unpopular the cuts were, has proven faulty. It's an odd way to run the government, but a series of short-term extensions with a pro-rated amount of spending reduction totaling up to $61 billion sounds like a nightmare for the White House and the Democratic congressional leadership. There could be no better illustration of the Democrats' defense of the big-government status quo.
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