Tea Party, some Republicans unhappy with short-term spending vote
Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET with quotes from Rep. Mike Pence, House Speaker John Boehner and the Tea Party Patriots
The House today will vote on another short-term spending bill that would keep the federal government operating for another three weeks -- while cutting $6 billion along the way -- but some Republicans associated with the Tea Party are signaling they will no longer support Congress' short-term budget solutions.
While the measure is expected to pass, and thus stave off a government shutdown, the dissent among conservatives serves to highlight the divide between Tea Party Republicans and the rest of their party, as well as their willingness to buck party leadership.
"I will not vote for the short-term continuing resolution that is coming to the floor of the House today to make [a] statement," prominent conservative Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said on the House floor today. "Things don't change in Washington until they have to. It's time to pick a fight."
House Tea Party Caucus Chair Michele Bachmann released a statement today saying she is also voting against the measure, referred to as a Continuing Resolution (CR), because it does not repeal funding for President Obama's health care reforms.
"We must defund ObamaCare now, and this CR makes no such attempt," she said.
Tea Party-backed Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, both said on Monday they are opposing the measure.
"While attempts at new spending reductions are commendable, we simply can no longer afford to nickel-and-dime our way out of the dangerous debt America has amassed," Rubio wrote in an op-ed at Redstate.com.
Similarly, Jordan said in a statement, "With the federal government facing record deficits and a mammoth debt hanging over our economy and our future, we must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended the measure today, pointing out that once this bill passes, House Republicans will have already managed to cut $10 billion from this year's budget through short-term spending measures. "It's a small down payment on our commitment to the American people that we have real fiscal responsibility," he said.
The growing resistance on Capitol Hill to these short-term spending measures follows complaints from groups representing the conservative base. Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips wrote an op-ed today entitled, "Boehner, Cantor and the House GOP leadership still don't get it," declaring that his organization will not support any short-term bill that does not defund Planned Parenthood or the health care reforms. Phillips acknowledged this bill is likely to pass, but he said the next one must not.
"The next continuing resolution is where the Tea Party movement needs to make its stand," he wrote. "Either we see hundreds of billions in cuts or we shut the government down. It has come to that."
Congressional leaders have said this should be the last short-term bill before a spending measure for the rest of the fiscal year has passed. "We are trying to position ourselves so that we can ensure no government shutdown but continue cutting spending and reach a result that I think we can get a majority of members to go along with," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said yesterday.
The Tea Party Patriots also announced their opposition to the short-term bill today. "As we suspected this Congress is not serious about cutting spending and presenting a realistic budget," TPP national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said in a statement.
Other groups that announced their opposition to the spending measure this week include the anti-abortion rights group the Susan B. Anthony List and the National Taxpayers Union. On Friday, the the Family Research Council, Club for Growth and Heritage Action released a joint statement opposing the measure.
A new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News highlights the divide in thinking between conservative and moderate Republicans: Among self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who describe themselves as "very conservative," 61 percent said a government shutdown would be a positive development. By comparison, 58 percent of those who are less conservative or moderate said the opposite.
Earlier this month, when the House passed the last short-term spending measure, just six Republicans opposed it. In the Senate, five Republicans voted against it. More and more Republicans are opposing this measure, however.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York released a statement yesterday warning that the Tea Party opposition to the short-term measure "is a bad omen that shows how difficult it will be for Speaker Boehner to bring the Tea Party along for any long-term compromise... In order to avert a shutdown, Speaker Boehner should consider leaving the Tea Party behind and instead seek a consensus in the House among moderate Republicans and a group of Democrats."
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