Double Down; Two FY 11 Spending Measures Fail in Senate

March 9, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | Post a Comment

Double Down; Two FY 11 Spending Measures Fail in SenateAs expected, this afternoon the Senate failed to pass two competing spending measures that would have funded the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. In a curious type of silver lining, the defeat of these bills may actually clear the way for both parties to come to the table and reach a compromise before March 18.

Today’s defeat of the two proposals reflects the continuing spending divide between Republicans and Democrats, who still stand about $50 billion apart on the budget for the current fiscal year.

H.R. 1, the measure that originated with House Republicans and passed in that chamber, would have cut close to $100 billion from President Obama’s proposed but never enacted budget for FY 2011. Compared with actual spending in FY 2010, the cuts would have been closer to $60 billion.

The package floated by Senate Democrats would have cut approximately $51 billion from Obama’s FY 2011 proposal, but less than $10 billion from the actual spending level in FY 2010.

As debate started on today’s votes around noon, Obama demonstrated how entrenched his opposition to the Republican blueprint is, releasing a policy statement that his administration “strongly opposes” H.R. 1 and calling the bill “unbalanced.” Obama reiterated his earlier threat to veto any spending bill that crosses his desk if it contains spending cuts that go too deep.

No one expected either measure to pass, but the votes were widely hailed as a way to demonstrate that neither bill is the solution to the impasse over the FY 2011 budget. With those largely symbolic efforts out of the way, the two parties may have saved enough face with their core constituencies to reengage with each other in earnest to hash out a compromise.

However, recent reports have indicated that some House Republicans are hard at work on yet another short-term stopgap measure, which could reflect a level of skepticism about how quickly the two sides may be able to reach a longer-term agreement.

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