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Gingrich urges GOP to stand its ground

The former House speaker tells congressional Republicans during a visit to Capitol Hill that they should hold out for $61 billion in budget cuts.

March 31, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, speaking at an event on healthcare.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, speaking… (Brendan Hoffman / Getty…)

Reporting from Washington — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday that congressional Republicans should hold out for the $61 billion in budget cuts in their House-passed bill rather than compromise with Democrats on fewer reductions for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year.

Ever the party strategist, the presumed GOP presidential hopeful said Republicans should use the days leading up to next week's possible federal government shutdown to target Democrats for opposing such reductions. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, rejected the House bill.

"They should spend a week focusing the country on the fact that the problem is a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president," Gingrich said during a tour of the Capitol on Thursday.

"If you want more cuts, replace the 23 Democrats that are up for reelection [in the Senate] and replace the president."

Gingrich has defended the government shutdowns that occurred under his watch in the mid-1990s. He met with a few dozen GOP freshmen at a morning meeting and delivered a health policy lecture to a small lunchtime gathering.

Yet even as he was pressing the GOP to stand firm for the steeper cuts contained, Gingrich objected to the deep reductions to science research and the National Institutes of Health in the House-passed bill.

"I would plead with Republicans in the House," he said, not to cut NIH funding, "but to increase it."

lmascaro@tribune.com

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