Guy Benson
Two weeks ago, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a stopgap measure to temporarily fund the federal government -- buying a bit more negotiating time for a final 2011 Continuing Resolution in the process.  Those discussions haven't borne much fruit, as the White House remains curiously detached from the process.  House Republican leadership is preparing to apply an additional three-week bandaid to the problem, and some Democrats are signaling a willingness to play ball, even though the new proposal slashes an additional $6 Billion in federal spending.  To put that number in perspective, the Democrat-backed spending "control" plan offered a mere $4.7 Billion in cuts for the remainder of the entire fiscal year. 

A growing number of conservatives are now balking at the prospect of supporting another incremental fix.  Just 11 Republicans -- six in the House and five in the Senate -- opposed the two-week CR in early March; the list of Republican "nays" for the new resolution is expanding.  Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), both of whom supported the last measure, have announced they won't support the new one.  Rubio elucidates his position in a post at RedState.com:

I commend the efforts of House and Senate Republican leaders to deal with this, but I did not come to the U.S. Senate to be part of some absurd political theatre.

I will no longer support short-term budget plans. While attempts at new spending reductions are commendable, we simply can no longer afford to nickel-and-dime our way out of the dangerous debt America has amassed. It is time our leaders in Washington wake up and realize that we are headed for a debt disaster.


Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, has also issued a statement stating his intention to vote no:

“Americans sent us here to deal with big problems in bold ways.  We’re borrowing billions of dollars a day, yet Senate Democrats have done little more than wring their hands for the last month.  With the federal government facing record deficits and a mammoth debt hanging over our economy and our future, we must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces.

“Democrats control both the Senate and the White House, and it’s time they stopped dithering.  We need swift action to deal with spending for the rest of this year.  We need to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, and we need to defund ObamaCare.  And we need to start tackling next year’s budget, the debt-ceiling, and other challenges standing in the way of job creation.  We've made some solid first downs on spending.  Now it's time to look to the end zone.”


Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor informs reporters that "no meetings" have taken place between Republican and Democratic leaders on the long term CR.  Members of both parties do agree, though, that the White House is essentially MIA -- or as the AP euphemizes, "above the fray:"

Call it an above-the-fray strategy.  On hot issues that Democrats and Republicans have found cause to fret about — from spending reductions to state labor disputes — President Barack Obama is keeping a low profile.

"There is a very strong gravitational pull in this town to try to drag the president to every single political skirmish and news story," said White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer.  Pfeiffer said Obama has enough issues on his agenda and said the White House doesn't believe the public wants the president weighing in on an array of subjects. "They want him leading the country..."

Fascinating.  Some Democrats are practically begging the White House for leadership on the budget, yet the White House has thus far responded by asserting that President Obama is far too preoccupied with "leading the country" to summon the time and energy to wade into marginal "skirmishes" like, er, funding the federal government and addressing the debt crisis. 

Michael Barone thinks this approach sounds an awful lot like an option Barack Obama often favored as an Illinois State Senator: "Present."  


Parting thought: Will the president's jam-packed leadership calendar prevent him from squeezing in another official unveiling of his NCAA tournament brackets?



(Video from 2010)


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography