GOP leaders halt debate on austere spending bill

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By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — House GOP leaders Wednesday halted debate on an austere measure that's full of cuts to transportation and housing programs and community development grants.

GOP aides said there wasn't enough time in a busy House floor schedule to continue debate but House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said it was apparent there weren't the votes to pass the bill.

Rogers, who is often cautious in his public statements, issued an unusually harsh blast, saying it reflected a failure of Republicans to follow up their promises to cut spending with binding legislation.

"With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago," Rogers said. He said the failed transportation and housing measure was the first major attempt by Republicans to pass an appropriations bill at levels consistent with the automatic cuts known as budget sequestration.

"The House, Senate and White House must come together as soon as possible on a comprehensive compromise that repeals sequestration, takes the nation off this lurching path from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis, reduces our deficits and debt, and provides a realistic topline discretionary spending level to fund the government in a responsible — and attainable — way," Roger said.

Some House conservatives vow to oppose every spending measure while the cuts in the bill may be too deep for more moderate Republicans.

The move comes as companion legislation in the Senate may be filibustered to death on Thursday by Republicans because it exceeds budget levels mandated under automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

"Voting for appropriations legislation that blatantly violates budget reforms already agreed to by both parties moves our country in exactly, exactly the wrong direction," said Minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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