House vote first step in averting government shutdown

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to pass a temporary spending measure, the first step in averting a government shutdown at week’s end.

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber voted 335-91 in support of the continuing resolution that will fund government operations for an additional two weeks. The proposal includes $4 billion in spending cuts that have been endorsed by President Obama.

Democrats, who control the U.S. Senate, had signaled tentative support for the GOP’s stopgap plan, though they and the White House had sought a longer extension to give both parties more time to negotiate a spending plan for the remainder of the fiscal year.


Still, the Senate will hold a vote on the House measure on Wednesday.

Lawmakers face a Friday deadline for the new spending plan to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president or face a government shutdown. House Republicans last month passed a resolution for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year with more than $60 billion in budget cuts.

Democrats have rejected the plan, citing an analysis by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, that said it would eliminate up to 700,000 jobs over the next two years and shave 0.5 percentage points from the 2011 growth in gross domestic product. Other economists dispute those assessments and say the economy would not suffer.

With a stopgap measure likely to pass the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that Obama will become more engaged in further negotiations.

“He has the bully pulpit and the White House, which is very important,” Reid said.

To that end, Obama called House Speaker John Boehner earlier on Tuesday to discuss his goal for a longer-term budget resolution.

“There’s no debate here about the need to cut spending,” press secretary Jay Carney said. “The question is, where do you cut in a way that doesn’t harm the economy, doesn’t throw it in reverse, doesn’t reduce job growth, job creation, and that protects the investments that are so key to longer-term economic growth in this country? And the president thinks there’s common ground there.”