House passes CR with $60 billion in cuts

It took an all-nighter to finish a marathon debate over the remainder of FY2011 spending, but the House finally passed a continuing resolution as dawn approached this morning.  The new budget reduces spending $60 billion over earlier projections, which falls short of the $100 billion conservatives had hoped to see.  The lower figure may put more pressure on the Senate to pass it quickly:

The House of Representatives passed a government spending bill after a marathon session Saturday morning that slashes more than $60 billion in federal funding for the seven months remaining in the 2011 fiscal year.

The vote on the GOP measure won by a 235-189 margin, at a vote that occurred right before 5 a.m. The fight over spending now moves to the Senate.

The fight over spending now moves to the Senate, but with President Obama already issuing a veto threat of the House bill and Senate Democratic leaders calling the cuts “extreme,” the specter of a government shutdown looms. Only two weeks remain before the current resolution funding federal agencies expires.

Actually, Democrats had gone on the record supporting cuts, while calling the $100 billion figure “extreme.”  Attempting to block the more modest cuts in an environment where a $1.6 trillion deficit looms may wind up making the Senate look extreme — extreme spenders.  Plenty of Democrats who have to run for re-election next year know that voters will watch this bill very carefully.  They would be smarter to go along with the cuts and focus their efforts on the FY2012 bidget.

Let’s say, however, that CNN is right and the Senate refuses to pass the House bill, leading to a government shutdown. Will House Republicans get the blame?  Doubtful.  After all, they just did in six weeks what Democrats couldn’t do all last year with large majorities in both chambers and a Democrat in the White House: pass a budget.  Furthermore, the GOP showed that cuts can take place, even under time pressures that CRs bring.  Democrats will own the next government shutdown, not Republicans.

David Rogers at Politico tallies the scoresheet:

The $60 billion in reductions are concentrated in the last six months of this fiscal year and represent a 14 percent cut that will severely impact Obama’s agenda at home and abroad. Foreign aid and State Department operations would be cut as much as $10 billion from Obama’s latest request. Pell Grants for low income college students are reduced, and School Turnaround Grants cut by almost two-thirds.

The Environmental Protection Agency lost $2.7 billion from its current appropriations. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, charged with major new responsibilities under Wall Street reforms, would get a third of the funding Obama wants. And the new Republican majority would block not just federal regulators but Obama’s signature achievement thus far: healthcare reform.

In other words, it’s a decent but not great start.  A 14% reduction in domestic spending will take place, after a 24% expansion during the last two years.  We’re not back to 2008 levels — which were still too high — but we’re moving in the right direction.

Addendum: I can’t let Rogers’ reporting pass without remarking on this paragraph:

So much of 1995 was dominated by the outsized personality of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich who fancied himself a modern Cromwell leading Parliament against the king. By comparison the bill now reflects a more genuine upheaval, springing from the Republican ranks and demanding far more dramatic spending cuts than anything attempted so early in 1995.

Editorializing much in our reporting, Politico?  I did a search for Gingrich, Cromwell, and parliament to see if Newt actually told anyone that he “fancied himself a modern Cromwell,”  which would be odd indeed for any American politician to do, especially given Cromwell’s horrific record in Ireland.  The answer to that is no; the only reference that produces in Gingrich’s media coverage was one article from Time Magazine from 1998, by Charles Potato, who makes the same allusion Rogers does.

Maybe Rogers and Politico should keep their flights of fancy to themselves, or leave them for the editorial/opinion pages.