Shortly before dawn on Saturday, the House passed a funding resolution that includes $61 billion in spending cuts (compared to 2010 enacted levels) and dozens of amendments designed to completely defund or undo many of President Obama’s legislative priorities. The final vote was 235 to 189, with three Republicans — Reps. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), Walter Jones (R., N.C.) and John Campbell (R., Calif.) — voting ‘no.’ Flake and Campbell were part of a group pushing for further cuts. They had sought, unsuccessfully, to tack on an additional $22 billion in across-the-board cuts, but more than 90 of their GOP colleagues helped defeat the measure. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) called it “democracy in action,” referring to the freewheeling, at times chaotic, “open process” that produced more than 100 amendments and kept the House floor open into the wee hours of the morning every day this week. “I’m proud of this vote,” he said.
“Today, the House passed the single largest spending cut in modern history,” House Majority Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said in a statement. “Our action serves as the historic turning point from a Congress that ignored the will of the people to a Congress that responds to the will of the people.
Still, the real challenge for Republicans lies ahead as the House bill is sent to the Democratic Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) denounced as “draconian” a earlier proposal to cut around $30 billion, so you can imagine what he’ll think of this one. In any event, the Senate is unlikely to be able to process and pass its own version of the bill before the current continuing resolution expires on March 4, so Congress will first have to produce a short-term continuing resolution to avert a shutdown. Late Friday evening, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) introduced a resolution to keep government funded at current levels through March 31, a shrewd effort to put pressure on Speaker Boehner, who has already suggested that any continuing resolution, short-term or otherwise, must included spending cuts. “These are going to be the most important two, three, four months that we have seen in this town in decades,” Boehner said.