I am pleasantly stunned that GOP leaders have increased the level of cuts in the bill that will fund the government for the final seven months of fiscal year 2011. Kudos to the freshman members, the Tea Party, and the conservatives who have led the charge and achieved so much. They certainly exceeded my expectations. Here’s the good news from the Washington Post.
Republicans, who control the House, yielded to calls from their conservative wing and roughly doubled the size of spending cuts to be considered next week as part of a resolution to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011. They offered a real cut in spending of almost $61 billion. But, more important to conservatives, the reductions amount to $100 billion less than President Obama’s 2011 budget called for. The budget was never enacted. …”It’s not about demands; it’s about us standing up on some principles and letting [people] know that we support them,” said Rep. Allen B. West (Fla.), an outspoken member of the new freshman class. West will give the keynote speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s conference. The package of spending cuts is the largest since just after World War II… The legislation would eliminate more than $121 million in funding inside the White House, including money for the so-called health-care czar and climate-change czar. And it would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget by almost 30 percent. Republicans proposed earlier this week to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and AmeriCorps. …The House expects to begin debate on the bill Tuesday and to set up a final vote by the end of the week.
I’m particularly happy to see that my election-night buddy, Cong. Allen West, continues to be a strong leader on these issues.
But let’s not rest on our laurels (I’m not even sure what laurels are, but hopefully they’re not too comfortable since there’s a lot more work to be done). This legislation presumably will be approved by the House, notwithstanding a few big-government Republicans. But we know that Harry Reid and the Senate are a big obstacle, and President Obama surely won’t approve anything to reduce the burden of government.
So does this mean a government shutdown? Under current law, funding for the government runs out on March 4. If there’s not an agreement by that time, this will mean a high-stakes battle very reminiscent of the battle between congressional Republicans and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Republicans feel they got out-maneuvered in that conflict, so they may be a bit gun-shy if the same fight occurs this year.
And let’s not forget that a similar dynamic will exist later this year on the vote to increase the debt limit. Republicans will be very reluctant to give the government more borrowing authority without getting something in exchange. But if Democrats are obstinate, that sets up another game of brinksmanship.
Having been very involved in those battles in 1995 and 1996, I’ll soon have more to say about how fiscal conservatives can win these government shutdown battles.