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Republican Lugar backs GOP budget plan

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN) speak to the media after the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the new START treaty on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 21, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN) speak to the media after the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the new START treaty on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 21, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar says he will support the federal spending cuts proposed by the Republican majority in the U.S. House.

The Hill said Lugar, a centrist Republican and the senior most member of the Senate Republican conference, told reporters Tuesday afternoon he made a mistake when he said he would not support the cuts. His press secretary e-mailed a statement to UPI saying Lugar would vote for the continuing resolution the requiring $57 billion in spending cuts from the fiscal 2011 budget.

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"I'm going to vote with the Republicans on the issue when H.R. 1 comes up," the Hill quoted Lugar, who faces a Tea Party challenge in Indiana's 2012 Republican primary, as saying. "If it's strictly an affirmative vote, I will be for H.R. 1 because all the Republicans will be voting for H.R. 1.

"My own feeling would be that we probably need to have more extensive savings than $58 or $61 billion," Lugar said. "I'm sorry if I misled people," he added. "I'm going to vote for the Republican resolution, which is as clearly as I can say it."

Lugar said he had misheard the question when he gave his initial reply.

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Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the proposed budget cuts would kill jobs, adding Republicans "don't want to vote on their own bill." He vowed to call an up-or-down vote on the measure.

"The plan the Tea Party pushed though the House is an irresponsible plan," Reid said. "It's a reckless plan. It's dangerous for the health of our economy and certainly the citizens of our great country."

In another budget-related development Tuesday, House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California said GOP members were ready to pursue another short-term funding measure before March 18 when the current continuing resolution allowing the government to pay its bills expires.

"Republicans will be prepared in the House to do another two-, three- or four-week CR … ," he said.

The Hill said McCarthy told reporters at a Washington breakfast there wasn't enough time to negotiate longer term legislation to keep U.S. government operations going through September.

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