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Pelosi Introduces Short-Term CR Until March 31

Late last night, the House passed their continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2011, which cuts over $60 billion from the discretionary budget over the next seven months, and includes a host of ideological measures, including bids to defund the FCC’s net neutrality plan, EPA greenhouse gas regulations, and the health care law. An effort to add an additional 5% across the board cuts to the plan failed with many Republicans opposing. But the final vote was 235-189, mostly along party lines, although three Republicans – Jeff Flake, John Campbell and Walter Jones – voted no. Flake and Campbell wanted bigger cuts. Not one Democrat crossed over to vote for the bill.

The Senate is just not going to accept that House measure, which makes deep cuts across government but particularly to programs favored by Democrats, without working their will on it. So House Democrats are attempting to extend the current operating continuing resolution until March 31, to give more time for negotiation between the House and Senate and avoid a government shutdown. Funding would continue at current levels, which is essentially FY 2010 levels, through the month of March, under the plan. Of course, this would mean that any cuts would be spread over a six-month period, from March 31 to September 30, instead of seven months. That will increase their impact marginally in those six months. The entire Democratic Leadership and the ranking member on Appropriations, Norm Dicks, will co-sponsor the bill. Here’s Nancy Pelosi:

In light of the hundreds of amendments to the Continuing Resolution, the Presidentā€™s Day week-long recess and the need for the House to establish priorities and reconcile this legislation with the Senate by March 4, we are proposing a short-term extension of the current CR until March 31. This legislation will allow Congress to complete work on FY 2011 appropriations without punishing the American people by denying them vital services.

This bill would continue the freeze in government spending contained in the current CR. In order to give Congress time to finish the legislation and avoid the calamitous effect of a government shutdown on the American people, I am hopeful Republican leaders will agree to a short term extension of the freeze as we work to pass a bill the President can sign into law for the remainder of 2011.

This is the kind of short-term CR that John Boehner ruled out this week. Realistically, if he wants to avoid a government shutdown it’s the only option. With the one-week recess, Congress will have five working days on a bill which affects all levels of government. It includes 400 legislative issues inside it, all of which Senate Democrats want out. It’s just not going to be possible to get all that ironed out in five working days.

Republicans quickly dismissed the short-term CR idea. So they can take the blame for shutting down the government, which is likely to happen in two weeks.

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David Dayen

David Dayen