PA 4th CD Rep. Altmire Votes for Tea Party Budget

House approves stopgap despite White House veto threat

By Pete Kasperowicz – 04/07/11 02:34 PM ET

The House on Thursday approved a stopgap funding measure in the face of a White House veto threat.

In a 247-181 vote, the House approved legislation that would fund the federal government through April 15. The legislation would also fund the Pentagon through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The Senate is not expected to consider the measure, and the White House said it would veto the bill earlier on Thursday. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he told President Obama he was disappointed about the veto promise during a meeting with the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Fifteen Democrats voted for the bill, while six Republicans voted against it.

The six Republicans opposing the bill were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Joe Barton (Texas), Steve King (Iowa), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), and Ron Paul (Texas).

Democrats supporting the bill were Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (NC), Tim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.) and Heath Shuler (NC).

During the debate, Republicans brushed aside the veto threat and said there is no reason Obama or the Senate should reject the bill, because it funds U.S. military operations for the rest of the year. Boehner and other Republicans sought to portray the measure as an effort to fund troops and also keep the government open, and asked why Democrats would seek to create uncertainty for the military.

“There’s no policy reason for the Senate to oppose this responsible troop funding bill that keeps the government running,” Boehner said. “It reflects a bicameral, bipartisan agreement that was reached in December regarding the troop funding bill, and no Senator has objected to the policy in this bill.”

“If you vote against this bill, you are voting against the troops, who are engaged in three wars,” added House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) rejected these arguments, saying Republicans are again trying to “ransom” the government by only allowing it to remain funded if Democrats are willing to swallow spending cuts. The GOP bill would cut $12 billion from discretionary programs, which Democrats say goes to far, especially given that it increases military funds.

Overall, the bill would cut $4.4 billion in current spending. It also includes language that would bar the District of Columbia from using local government funds to pay for abortion services.

“You do it to pretend you want to keep government in operations,” Hoyer said of the bill while noting that he would vote against it. “We ought to reject this specious political act, which pretends that we want to keep the government open.”

Hoyer asked Republicans repeatedly if they would support a “clean” spending bill that makes none of the additional cuts sought by Republicans, but he was rejected each time. When he asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Cantor replied, “I would say to the gentleman, no,” eliciting a chorus of GOP cheers. “We don’t accept the status quo.”

When Hoyer directed the same question to Rogers, he repeated the GOP’s opposition to the status quo, and then ignored Hoyer when he was asked for more time to clarify his request.

Just before the final vote, Hoyer offered a motion to recommit the bill so that it provides for a clean extension of government spending. Republicans raised a point of order against it, after which Hoyer moved to appeal the point of order. Republicans moved to table the appeal, and succeeded in a 236-187 vote.

Democrats: Boehner Not in Control, Conservative Hardliners Want to Impose Social Agenda

By: David Dayen Thursday April 7, 2011 1:28 pm

The House passed a one-week stopgap spending bill today, despite a veto threat from the White House. This is a vehicle for Republicans to claim that they did their best to fund the government, but it cuts funding not agreed to by negotiators by $12 billion, and includes unrelated policy riders on abortion funding for Washington DC opposed by Democrats. The final vote was 247-181, with six hardline Republicans opposing and 15 conservative Democrats supporting.

Prior to that vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer offered a motion to recommit that would change the bill to a clean one-week stopgap at current funding levels, but Republicans shot that down by a 236-187 count. This was the key moment:

Hoyer asked Republicans repeatedly if they would support a “clean” spending bill that makes none of the additional cuts sought by Republicans, but he was rejected each time. When he asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Cantor replied, “I would say to the gentleman, no,” eliciting a chorus of GOP cheers. “We don’t accept the status quo.”

That pretty much sums up the difference between Democrats and Republicans. And it’s reflected in the public polling. Much like the representatives, out in the public, Democrats seek compromise while Republicans don’t. The conservative negotiating stance is a mirror image of the conservative base. And because the other side’s base actually favors compromise, you see conservatives extract the maximum from most negotiations.

According to the poll, 68 percent of self-identified Democrats, as well as 76 percent of political independents, say they want Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to make compromises to gain consensus in the current spending debate.

By comparison, 56 percent of self-identified Republicans — and 68 percent of Tea Party supporters — want GOP leaders to stick to their position, even if it means the inability to achieve consensus.

That really is all you need to figure out why we’re headed for a shutdown.

House Democrats lit into John Boehner and the Republicans in a conference call with progressive media just now. “Boehner has about 80 members who think that compromise is a dirty word. They keep wanting to move the goalposts and stick in radical social changes that they can’t get any other way,” said Jim McDermott (D-WA), referring to the unrelated policy riders around abortion and women’s health funding that Republicans are demanding. “This isn’t about debt reduction, it’s about the social agenda they’re trying to jam through. It’s really a cultural war that’s going on here. They’ve been offered the money, the President gave them the money.”

Others on the call, particularly House Budget Committee ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen, intimated that Boehner had lost control of his caucus and cannot deliver a deal. This point was echoed by Josh Marshall:

A negotiator with limited negotiating authority can present his side’s case and listen to the other side’s. He can dicker some and argue back and forth. But when push comes to shove, that kind of negotiator is basically a messenger, not a principal — and that makes it difficult to do get a deal done.

It can lead to what we’re seeing here: frequent short negotiating sessions that are interrupted so that the negotiator on a short leash can confer with his principals, pass on the latest message and devise a response. It short circuits one of the features of an intense negotiation, which is to create a pressure-cooker environment that melts away the extraneous issues and forces the parties to deal with the core disagreements.

“Boehner doesn’t have the nerve to come over and admit he’s failed,” McDermott said. Norm Dicks, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said this may be a negotiating tactic by Boehner, to show conservatives that he did everything he could. But the consensus was much more skeptical. And a simple look at the polling shows that the conservative base wants a shutdown, and doesn’t want to give up unless they get everything they seek. And so Boehner is just following orders, and walking his party into a box canyon.

Eric Cantor offered that the House could stay in session over the weekend to resolve the situation, which is awful nice of him. But the only action that looks to be successful this weekend in Washington is thousands of people taking their uncollected garbage to Boehner’s house. He’s the one following the dictates of his caucus, after all. “He wants to blame the Democrats but (the government shutdown is) on him,” concluded Norm Dicks.

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