Thursday, February 17, 2011

All voices heard as House brainstorms for budget trims

From Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez of The Washington Post on Feb. 17:
As the House explores ways this week to trim federal spending beyond the $61 billion in cuts that Republicans have already proposed, Speaker John A. Boehner has said all ideas are welcome -- from obscure trims involving mustang roundups out West to major reductions such as eliminating funding for the Iraq security forces.

But such a free-for-all can have surprising results, and one of the biggest Wednesday was a victory for President Obama and a defeat for a Boehner-backed initiative.

Many tea-party-backed freshmen broke ranks with their GOP leaders and joined liberal Democrats in voting to cut funding for an alternative engine for a fighter jet. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine project has long been a frequent but elusive target, as well as one that provided jobs in Boehner's home state of Ohio.

In trying to pass a bill that would fund the federal government through September, Boehner has kept a campaign promise to give everyone a voice in the process. But the engine vote showed that no one can quite predict how it will turn out.

That didn't seem to bother some House Republicans, though. Rep. Steve King (Iowa) said the debate has been so intense because Republicans and Democrats have "years of pent-up frustrations" after floor amendments were previously not allowed for such spending bills.

"This constitutional, republican form of government is messy and debate is messy, but I think it's so important that for the first time in how many years now members can actually take their argument to the floor, have a debate, force a recorded vote on their issue," King said.


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