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Senate Rejects Two Spending Bills

Jenny Chen |
March 9, 2011 | 3:37 p.m. PST

Associate News Editor


Sen. Rand Paul (Creative Commons)
Sen. Rand Paul (Creative Commons)
The Senate rejected two competing spending bills meant to fund the federal government on Wednesday, leaving lawmakers nine days to make a compromise.

Currently, the federal government is operating under a stopgap spending bill to fund agencies through March 18. This agreement was passed last week.  Once it expires, the government will shut down unless a compromise can be reached on how to fund the government through its fiscal year to Sept. 30.

One bill was a House Republican measure that planned to cut $61 billion from current funding levels while a Senate Democrat plan would have cut $6.5 billion.

Both were expected to fail, as Senate Democrats and President Obama had previously objected to the Republican’s bill. On Wednesday, neither plan achieved a simple majority as the vote on the House GOP-led bill was 56-44 and the Senate Democrat failed 58-42.

At least 60 votes were needed to pass the bills.

The House GOP’s package included ending federal funding to Planned Parenthood. It also contained the Pence amendment, a ban on abortion funding in D.C. It passed in the House last month, but Tea Party Republicans Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. Mike Lee (UT), and Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) joined the Democrats in voting against it.

Meanwhile, 11 Democrats joined the Republicans to vote against the Senate Democratic measure. White House budget director Jack Lew said the votes were “pretty significant.”

“There’s broad consensus that we shouldn’t shut the government down. We ought to be able to work out way through this,” Lew said, adding that if there wasn’t enough time to resolve the issue, a decision towards a short-term agreement would need to be made.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy predicted on Tuesday that a second stopgap measure would be likely. McCarthy also said Republicans are preparing for a bill that would keep agencies open for two to three more weeks that included cuts of $2 billion per week.  

Reach reporter Jenny Chen here.

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