Not good enough: Tea Party freshmen sink Republican spending plan

February 11, 2011

By Erik Wasson -The Hill

Chastened GOP leaders promised Thursday to find a full $100 billion in spending cuts after freshmen lawmakers torpedoed a proposal that they said betrayed the party’s “Pledge to America.”

In a stinging rebuke to party leadership, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee abandoned plans to seek only $74 billion in cuts just hours before their continuing resolution was set to be unveiled.

The abrupt reversal set off a mad scramble among Republican staffers to scrape together the extra cuts in time to unveil the final spending resolution by Friday.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said Thursday evening that the GOP had come to a verbal agreement on a path forward on a continuing resolution with $100 billion in cuts.

The reversal was a clear victory for Tea Party-backed freshmen who had resisted the $74 billion cut despite endorsements from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other members of the party leadership.

The turnaround was also a setback for the party’s leading fiscal hawk and rising star, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who unveiled the $74 billion spending plan last week and immediately faced questions about whether the proposal lived up to his tough talk about federal spending.

Cantor said Thursday evening that the caucus was “uniting” around a plan to cut $100 billion, while Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) commended the 87 freshmen lawmakers for pushing through a tough decision for America.

“What we heard here was a commitment to the $100 billion reduction number,” Cantor said. “That is what we said we were going to do and that’s what we are going to do.”

One House aide said the GOP’s failure to pass an extension of the Patriot Act this week alerted the House leadership to the growing dissatisfaction of their members.

“I think the Patriot Act failure woke up leadership to a rising problem,” the aide said.

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