GOP Freshman: ‘No Split-the-Baby Strategy’ on Spending

March 31, 2011
Representative Roby In The News

Ten House Republican freshmen rallied outside the Capitol Wednesday, calling on Senate Democrats to pass a spending bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year – and they said they wouldn’t budge on the $61 billion in domestic spending cuts the House passed last month until the Senate passes its bill.

The GOP freshmen, who have earned a reputation as uncompromising during their first three-months in Washington, did not leave much room for negotiation.

“We will not settle a split-the-baby strategy,” said Rep. Martha Roby (R., Ala.). “We want real cuts.” She touted the House’s votes for defunding Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Protection Agency and the new health care overhaul law.

When the leader of the group, Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas, was asked if he’d accept a White House proposal to cut $20 billion from discretionary spending for the rest of fiscal 2011, he said he wouldn’t “discuss hypotheticals.”  The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

“We’d be negotiating with ourselves,” Mr. Crawford told a group of reporters.

The congressman and 29 other House freshmen delivered a letter Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) in which they promised to gather on the Senate steps each day until the Senate passes a spending package. Negotiations with the Senate and White House over spending cuts have stalled, and the current stop-gap spending bill is set to expire April 8.

A tea party group will rally Thursday at the Capitol to protest federal spending.

While staffers for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Mr. Reid haggle over a spending plan, House freshmen and conservatives have demanded Republicans give little ground. House freshmen will meet with House leadership Thursday, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner said.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, a freshman from Texas who won his seat by less than a thousand votes, said GOP leaders will have a problem if they take out clauses that would defund Planned Parenthood or what he called “Obamacare.” The measures have little chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

If the riders can’t be included in a spending bill, Mr. Farenthold said, they should be attached to an upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling.

“We’re one-half of one-third of government,” he said. “We’ve got to use whatever leverage we can find.”