Freshmen House members are taking a hard line against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the politics of passing a temporary spending bill—with one freshman vowing not to settle for a “split the baby strategy” on spending cuts.
“The biggest barrier between the American people and a government of less spending, less borrowing, and less debt is Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate,” said Martha Roby, a freshman Republican from Alabama, noting the controversial policy riders in the bill that would defund Planned Parenthood and scale back the EPA.
“The Senate Democrats are ducking it all. They want to frame the debate as one within the Republican caucus but the American people are not buying it. The fight is between Republicans in Washington who want to cut spending and democrats who want to defend it,” Roby said.
“We will not settle for a ‘split the baby strategy,’ and it is time for the Democrats to respond,” she said, declining later to say whether any compromise was possible.
The comments of the freshmen, coming a day before tea party protests at the Capitol, increases the pressure not only on Reid, but on House Speaker John Boehner. Boehner goes unnamed in their complaints, but he is the one caught between cutting a deal with Senate Democrats to keep the government running and satisfy the tea party wing of his conference.
The freshmen met for a press conference outside the Capitol Wednesday morning organized by Rep. Rick Crawford. Crawford and his colleagues delivered a letter to Reid imploring him to make “reasonable, responsible spending cuts”— and promising to protest daily until he does.
“Mr. Reid, your record on spending in the Senate is one of failure,” says the letter, written by Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, a former radio broadcaster. “You have failed to pass a budget, failed to restrain spending, and failed to put our country on sound fiscal footing. We do not accept your failure as our own. The American people did not send us here to fail.
That’s not to say freshman Republicans won’t move off their hard line — just that they prefer not to give ground easily.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), who represents Fort Leonard Wood, said the Senate’s decision not to pass a counterproposal amounted to a “dereliction of duty” by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “He’s threatening a federal shutdown,” Hartzler said. “That’s not our plan, our plan is to lead and we have led. It’s time for him now to in good faith move forward with what needs to be done to cut spending, to pass a cr so we can get into talking about a 2012 budget, which is what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Other Republican freshmen said this is one of many attempts in coming days to push the Senate on a continuing resolution, including a Tea Party rally held at the Capitol tomorrow.
“The American people sent us into the Congress of the United States to do the peoples’ job, and we have done it,” Texas Rep. Quico Canseco said.
“We’re here to implore the Senate to do something. If they’ve got enough time to go and pass bills like the March 11 national or international plumbing day, then they can certainly look at our continuing resolution,” Canseco said.
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