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House GOP Leaders Blink

UPDATE: House Republican leaders postponed a vote today on a budget measure that would  institute $54 billion in spending cuts. 

Several sources suggested that the decision to pull the legislation came amid concerns that Republicans did not have the votes to pass it.  House Republicans leaders maintained, however, that the decision to pull the bill was the result of a scheduling conflict.

But the decision came as national Democrats were floating the specter of an ad campaign targeting vulnerable Republican incumbents who choose to vote for the GOP-backed bill.

The decision to pull the measure, at least temporarily, is the latest piece of bad news in what has already been a terrible week for Republicans highlighted by their gubernatorial losses in New Jersey and Virginia.

Here's my post from this morning on the budget-cutting proposal:

Watch the House floor today for an interesting confluence of policy and politics.

Republican leaders seem poised to call a vote on a bill that would trim spending by $54 billion over the next five years. House Democrats are almost unanimously opposed, citing the proposed cuts in programs like welfare and food stamps that would disproportionately affect low-income individuals, and a number of leading House moderates also remain unsatisfied with the bill.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.)said that the wins by his party in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday will almost certainly give some GOP members pause when it comes to today's vote. "Voters across the board have rejected the policies that got us here," Emanuel said.

Carl Forti, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, dismissed the vote's importance, arguing few people outside of Washington, D.C., are watching it closely. "Today's vote is so inside the Beltway, it will not be an election issue," he said.

With Republicans holding a 231to 202 seat advantage in the House (Rep. Bernie Sanders is an Independent; California's 48th district is currently vacant), the majority party has a very small margin for error if it hopes to pass the budget-cutting package. 

Expect the Republican leadership to bring significant pressure to bear on waffling GOPers throughout the day. In the past, this pressure led to narrow legislative victories for Republicans on controversial policy measures. But with President Bush's popularity in free fall and the 2005 election results hanging over the proceedings, how many Republicans ultimately break ranks will serve as an indicator of the level of worry within the party heading into 2006.

For more info. on the GOP budget-trimming bill, here's the Library of Congress write-up.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 10, 2005; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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