House slashes $61 billion from budget

Feb. 19, 2011 at 8:22 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- House Republicans passed a stopgap funding bill Saturday that would avert a government shut down and derail many of President Barack Obama's initiatives.

The government would shut down March 4 without the funding bill, called a continuing resolution, which passed 235-189 after a marathon legislative session that ended in the early hours Saturday.

The bill cuts $61 billion in spending from the current budget.

The bill carves a conservative take on government priorities, slashing $2.7 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency, cutting support for ethanol production and derailing funding for Obama's healthcare overhaul, Politico reported.

The bill also sets up a game of chicken between House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the Democratic-led Senate. Before the bill passed, Boehner said, "The only people in this town rooting for a government shutdown are (Rep.) Nancy Pelosi and (Sen.) Harry Reid. There's not one Republican talking about government shutdown. Our goal is to cut spending because it will lead to a better environment for job creation in America," The Hill reported.

In a statement, Services Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry disagreed, saying the spending cuts will "thrown nearly another million people out of work."

"SEIU agrees that we must cut wasteful and unnecessary spending," she said, "but we should first lose tax loopholes and end other tax breaks for the wealthy."

In an unusual move for a continuing resolution, Boehner allowed lawmakers to attach amendments to the bill. More than 500 were submitted, but aides pared that down to closer to 100 before the bill passed.

No Democrats voted for the bill and three Republicans voted no. But Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., claimed victory.

"The American people are ahead of us. They are asking us to go one step forward … to be bold," he said.

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