Following a contentious vote Tuesday night, the House Appropriations Committee will move forward with a GOP proposal to cut tens of billions in federal non-security spending for the remainder of the fiscal year (through September). The move puts Republicans one step closer to bringing a continuing resolution to the floor that will replace the one that expires on March 4.
The 27–22 vote broke down by party, with two notable exceptions: GOP Reps. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.) joined with Democrats and voted ‘no’ in protest over cuts they viewed as insufficient. Republicans very nearly lost a third member. Freshman Rep. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) had also threatened to oppose the measure, but was won over at the last minute.
The proposal will cut about $58 billion in non-defense spending compared to President Obama’s 2011 budget request. Conservatives like Flake have insisted that the number is too low and called for an additional $42 billion in cuts to fulfill a commitment outlined in the Republican “Pledge to America” to cut $100 billion. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has promised to introduce these extra cuts in an amendment to any continuing resolution brought to the floor.
Flake’s move was rather unprecedented in that he opted to file a dissenting view in the committee report, something that is almost never done by a member of the majority party. However, those familiar with Flake should not be surprised. He certainly didn’t sign up for the Appropriations Committee to make friends.
If Tuesday night’s vote is any indication of what’s to come when a continuing resolution ultimately comes to the House floor, GOP leadership will be in for a real test.