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Eric Cantor urges unity among rank-and-file

August 17, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro
(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty…)

In advance of the next potential budget showdown, a top GOP leader sought to tamp down discontent Wednesday among House Republicans over the fiscal 2012 spending levels agreed to under the debt deal withPresident Obama.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, told rank-and-file lawmakers “it is in our best interest” to accept the new levels, which do not cut as steeply as some conservative lawmakers wanted.

Congress will be expected to approve spending bills for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct.1, after lawmakers return from the August recess.

“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor wrote in the Wednesday memo to lawmakers.  “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”

Congressional approval is at all time lows, according to recent polls, and Americans have signaled their displeasure with the partisan battles in Washington as the economy struggles.

Cantor said that policy uncertainty in Washington is contributing to unease in the economy, and lawmakers should do their part to bring about some order.

“It is critical that in the days and months ahead we do our best to minimize unnecessary uncertainty,” Cantor said.

Congress could push the federal government toward another threatened shutdown next month if lawmakers engage in a protracted battle over the 2012 spending levels.

Under the debt deal with Obama, spending for 2012 would be reduced by $7 billion from current 2011 spending levels. But the House-passed Republican budget would have reduced spending by more than $31 billion. That budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, died in the Senate.

lmascaro@tribune.com

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