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House passes temporary spending measure to avert government shutdown

Although Republican resistance increases, the House votes 271-158 in support of a three-week extension, which includes $6 billion in new cuts beyond the last stopgap measure that is set to expire Friday. The Senate is expected to vote by Thursday.

March 15, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Despite increased resistance from Republicans, the House of Representatives has approved a new temporary spending measure that would again reset the timetable for negotiations on a long-term budget deal.

House vote: The headline and text in an earlier version of this article incorrectly said the House passed the three-week continuing resolution by a vote of 271-58. The actual vote was 271-158.

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber voted 271-158 in support of a three-week continuing resolution, which includes $6 billion in new cuts beyond the last stopgap measure that is set to expire Friday.

The Senate is expected to vote by Thursday.

The House's previous vote on an interim resolution on March 1 passed 335-91. The narrower vote Tuesday reflects growing opposition by conservative Republicans eager for steeper cuts like those in a longer-term budget the House passed in February, but that was rejected in the Senate last week.

Democrats were split in support of the extension, but provided needed votes for passage given the Republican defections.

The GOP conference had a robust discussion behind closed doors before the vote, with speakers making the case for and against final passage. House Speaker John Boehner also Tuesday promised that more cuts would be made, coming with consideration of an increase in the nation's debt ceiling. Democrats maintain that the GOP's proposed cuts are too severe.

"We are waiting at the negotiating table for Republicans to show they are willing to work together," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said before the vote.

Many have bemoaned the need to pass continuing resolutions like the one being debated this week, but persistent differences between the two chambers and the White House, and a reluctance by all sides to see a government shutdown, have forced them to do so anyway.

With Congress set to recess Friday and President Obama heading to Latin America, the parties all have an interest in avoiding an imminent shutdown. Even if one were to occur, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that Obama won't change his plans.

"Economic growth in the United States is the president's top priority, and this trip is ... very focused on economic opportunities for the United States and trade relationships. So he fully intends to press on with the trip," he said.

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