Next stopgap bill would cut $6 billion over 3 weeks

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:14pm EST

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at TechBoston Academy in Boston, March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at TechBoston Academy in Boston, March 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Republicans are preparing another stopgap-spending bill that would cut $6 billion from current levels and keep the government running for three more weeks, Representative Steven LaTourette said on Thursday.

The stopgap-spending bill would buy lawmakers more time after existing funding authority expires on March 18 to agree on final spending levels for the 2011 fiscal year, which ends September 30. The Senate would have to approve it as well before it could be sent to President Obama to sign into law.

"I hear it's three weeks, I hear it's $6 billion," LaTourette, a member of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, said.

The legislation will be unveiled on Friday and up for a vote by the full House on Tuesday, said Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers. But he would not detail the spending cuts it will contain.

A three-week extension of government funding beyond March 18, LaTourette said, "lets everybody keep talking, keeps the government open and hopefully we'll get something from the other side (Democrats) that's worth talking about" to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

LaTourette, a Republican, said he did not know how the $6 billion in cuts would be achieved. But he said it would be easy to find such reductions in programs that already are targeted for termination and are mostly noncontroversial.

That's exactly how Democrats and Republicans came together to quickly pass the current stopgap-spending bill that claimed to achieve $4 billion in cuts over two weeks.

Representative Sean Duffy, one of 85 House Republican freshmen -- many elected with Tea Party backing -- said, "I think we'll support one more" short-term spending bill.

"I don't know after that. We will have to see what happens in negotiations," Duffy said.

Some Republicans have indicated they are happy with a series of short-term spending bills that incrementally carry out their goal of shaving $2 billion a week from federal spending.

But as time goes on, there will be fewer and fewer noncontroversial savings available.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Thomas Ferraro, editing by Philip Barbara)

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