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More Political Stunts as Shutdown Looms

April 5, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

With just four days of government spending authority left, House Republicans are working hard on prepping for a shutdown. It’s not clear how hard they’re working on preventing one.

Yesterday, the Republican leadership distributed pamphlets “outlining the procedures congressional offices should take during a government shutdown.” And late last night they introduced another stopgap, this one designed for political, not legislative, success. The stopgap would last for one week and cut a whopping $12 billion from discretionary spending over that period. In order to protect it from cuts, the Defense budget would be extended for the full fiscal year and increased by $7.6 billion over last year’s level.

By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, the rate of spending cuts in this new stopgap is equal to $276 billion over the remaining part of the fiscal year. That’s extreme by anyone’s measure. The House Republicans’ full-fiscal-year CR would cut $61 billion, and Democratic and Republican leadership have recently been moving towers meeting in the middle at about $33 billion. The cuts in the stopgap are just totally inconsistent with the kinds of numbers negotiators have been discussing, and there’s no reason for the Democrats to believe that if they accept $12 billion in cuts now the Republicans will credit that into the full-year CR negotiations.

According to an anonymous Republican lawmaker speaking with The Hill after a closed-door GOP meeting yesterday, this is a purely strategic move. “He said he needs this [the as-of-yet-introduced bill] and the support of the conference going into that meeting at the White House, because he feels it gives him more leverage,” the lawmaker said. Beyond the leverage this gives them, of course, it also gives the Republicans another chance to say that they tried their hardest when/if the government does shut down.

A summary of the stopgap can be found here and, for now, the tex can downloaded as a PDF here. We’ll have it posted in our user-friendly bill text viewer shortly so you can leave comments on specific sections and link to them on other sites. UPDATE: The bill is now available on OpenCongress. Get involved

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