Several freshmen Republicans in the House of Representatives who came into office kicking and screaming about reigning in the national debt and cutting spending caved to political pressures Thursday and voted for a continuing resolution to keep government funding at its current level to avoid a lame-duck showdown after the November election.
"I voted for it because we have to be adults," says Florida Republican Rep. Allen West. "We want to govern and we want to take care of our responsibilities and that is the most important thing. I am not going to come up here and cut my nose just to spite my face."
The House voted 329-91 for a six-month continuing resolution to maintain government spending at $1.047 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office estimated this summer that Congress could fund all current programs at $1.039 trillion, but Congress went ahead and filled the $8 billion gap, increasing funding to all programs across the board.
The House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers admitted the legislation was less than ideal.
"This bill essentially punts on the core duty of Congress to complete its annual appropriations and budget work," Rogers said in a release.
Freshman Republican Louisiana Rep. Jeff Landry was among the junior lawmakers who did not back down. He says the funding level was simply too high for him to vote yes.
"I don't like the numbers, I agreed to the Ryan budget," Landry says. "And based upon the events that have transpired over the last 24 hours around the globe, I don't think it sends a great message to continue to fund Egypt."
Egypt currently receives nearly $1.5 billion from the U.S. in foreign aid, with only Israel receiving a bigger chunk of change.
Landry calls attention to another irony of the vote Thursday. Ryan's own budget calls for $19 billion less funding than the resolution members passed, putting the vice presidential nominee in an uncomfortable spot by voting for the resolution.
Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller says while he's upset freshman Republicans voted for the continuing resolution, he is not surprised.
"This entire Congress, the freshman Republicans have been just like the Republicans of old," Keller says. "They ran claiming they were going to change Washington and instead we see today some of them joining with the same kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality that got us in this mess in the first place."
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who voted for the continuing resolution, says he understands the pressure the freshman members are up against.
"They have been put through a pretty tough crucible here in the last two years. I have felt very sorry for the 87 freshman Republicans who came in here and pledged not to vote for the debt ceiling, pledged to cut spending," King says. "The cohesiveness of those 87 was fractured over time and they got scattered across the political spectrum, it was predictable, but it happened sooner than it needed to in my view.
Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @foxreports.
- Voters May Not Care About Solyndra, Google Data Shows
- Obama Campaign May Have Embraced Super PACs Earlier Than It Let On
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy