Frustrations Grow as House Passes Temporary Spending Bill

Progressives, conservatives grouse as House passes another three-week spending extension.

By + More

The House of Representatives easily passed a stopgap spending bill Tuesday afternoon which would give the White House and Congress an extra three weeks to avoid a government shutdown. But a growing backlash against the bill—the second stopgap funding measure so far this year—shows both that liberals and conservatives are getting frustrated with such short-term solutions, and also how far apart they are in terms of reaching a longer term agreement.

[See a slide show of 10 budget and spending fights looming for Obama and the GOP.]

The bill, which contains about $6 billion in spending cuts this year, passed the House with 271 votes and is expected to pass the Senate before the current temporary funding expires on Friday. But 53 Republicans voted against the measure, and those defections, along with opposition from activist groups like the Tea Party Patriots and the Club for Growth, are threatening to crack the GOP's united front as it confronts the Obama administration over government spending. Conservative critics claim that Congress should no longer delay action to reduce long-term deficits, repeal healthcare reform, and eliminate funding for other programs which have gotten caught up in the budget battle. "We need to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, and we need to defund Obamacare. And we need to start tackling next year's budget, the debt ceiling, and other challenges standing in the way of job creation," said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, an influential conservative House caucus, and voted against the measure.

[See 10 effects of a government shutdown.]

The spending measure also drew "no" votes from 104 Democrats. Many claimed that the GOP is little by little making dangerously deep cuts in vital government programs. "We can no longer afford this death by a thousand slashes," said Connecticut Rep. John Larson, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Even Democratic leaders were divided over the measure, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voting against it but House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer voting in favor.

Because the measure mostly eliminates earmarks and programs already targeted by Democrats and the Obama administration, it has the support of the Senate Democratic leadership, and appears likely to pass in that chamber. However conservatives there are grumbling about it as well. Some Senate Republicans have also blasted the proposal, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

If the bill becomes law, the federal government will be funded until April 8. But with conservatives grousing about the temporary deals made thus far being too incrementalist in terms of cuts while progressives complain that they have already been pushed too far on spending reductions, it leaves the Obama administration, Senate Democrats, and House Republicans little room to maneuver in finding a final deal.