With the White House abdicating leadership on budget issues and Senate Democrats in disarray, the Republicans in the House worry that the final FY2011 budget might not pass in time for the March 18th expiration of the current continuing resolution. As Plan B, the House GOP leadership has begun crafting another CR that will last somewhere between 2-4 weeks. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Whip, says a new CR would continue to cut spending and keep pressure on the Democrats to act:
“We’ll probably end up doing another short-term somewhere between two to three, maybe four weeks, depending on where the schedule lies,” McCarthy told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
McCarthy said the GOP might look to achieve deeper cuts so it doesn’t “lose ground as we go forward.”
The current spending measure expires March 18.
But a short-term continuing resolution won’t be an easy lift for the GOP. Party members are expected to ramp up pressure on leadership to come with a more permanent solution. McCarthy blamed the White House for sending Vice President Joe Biden — the chief negotiator with House Republicans — to Finland and Russia while the government is operating on a two-week stopgap measure.
Why do Republicans think that another CR will be necessary? The level of seriousness among Democratic leadership on budgeting was on full display today, and not just with the sudden dispatch of Sheriff Joe to Finland in the middle of negotiations. Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to lament the elimination of subsidies to public broadcasting and the art world — and what it would mean to cowboy poetry:
“The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1, eliminates National Public Broadcasting,” said Reid in a floor speech. “It eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts. These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”
Guy Benson notes what this means for serious budget negotiations:
If Democrats are unwilling to abide belt-tightening on federal subsidies for regional cowboy poetry festivals, that tells you everything you need to know about their seriousness on spending. It’s as if this didn’t actually happen in their minds. It also does not augur well for the looming entitlements fight. If they won’t touch the Lone Ranger reciting Poe, the notion that they’ll roll up their sleeves and tackle social security is just laughable.
Get the CR ready, Republicans — and be prepared to do it again after that, as long as Lonesome Harry remains in charge of the Democratic caucus and Wild Joe Biden heads up budget negotiations for the White House. By November 2012, voters will be ready to send Democratic leadership to their last political roundup.