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Republicans Demand Spending Cuts; Some Fear Government Shutdown

Olga Khazan |
February 22, 2011 | 9:52 p.m. PST

Senior Editor

Harry Reid
Harry Reid
When Senate majority leader Harry Reid proposed Tuesday to create a bill that would allow the government to continue spending for 30 days, the measure was rejected by GOP leaders, many of whom saw it as a covert attempt to avoid cutting the budget. Congressional Republicans have said repeatedly in recent weeks that they will only approve a bill that cuts spending. 

But the stop-gap 30-day bill might be necessary to avoid a total government shutdown. The Boston Globe reports:

"The House passed a $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill on Saturday to finance the government through Sept. 30. That measure would slash domestic agency budgets by more than $60 billion over the last seven months of the budget year, which would lead to widespread furloughs of federal workers and dismantle a host of environmental regulations.

It will take weeks to work out differences on the spending bill, thus requiring the stopgap bill."

The government's funding is set to expire March 4, leaving just five days for Congress to agree on and pass a bill. 

The Republican-backed House bill would make deep cuts to many climate and social programs, including suspending the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gasses and withholding U.S. funding from climate research. 

President Obama has said that even if the House bill clears the Senate, he will veto it on grounds that it compromises innovation and national security. 

Still, the Democrats' refusal to approve the House bill does present House Republicans with the opportunity to paint Democrats as the ones gunning for a government shutdown. The New York Daily News reports:

"House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) charged that it was the Democrats who were pushing a government shutdown by refusing to take up the House's bill that cuts $61 billion from last year's spending levels..

'Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid has yet to offer a plan and instead almost seems as though he’s hoping for a government shutdown to occur for political gain," Cantor said. "Let me be clear, a government shutdown is not an acceptable outcome, and I call upon Leader Reid to commit to a good faith effort to work with us and take that threat off the table.'"

The Republicans' plan, however, might not be popular with the general public. A Polimetrix poll found Americans favor only cuts in foreign aid but not any other public service or national defense. 



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