BREAKING: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Temporary Federal Funding Measure

Posted: Mar 02, 2011 11:48 AM
In a bipartisan and overwhelming vote, the Senate has passed a House-backed continuing resolution that will fund the government for two more weeks, while cutting $4 Billion in spending.  The final roll was 91-9.  Some important takeaways:

- Republican leadership and action has once again prevented an imminent government shutdown, without giving ground on spending cuts.

- As we first reported yesterday, Tea Party backed Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul were leaning towards casting "nay" votes on the CR -- and they both followed through. So did Republicans Orrin Hatch,* Jim Risch, and Mike Crapo, as well as four Democrats.  The Republican opponents' primary quarrel with the stopgap CR was that its spending cuts were not deep enough, and that the measure was not coupled with any meaningful commitment to long-term, structural spending changes.  The Democrats, including socialist Bernie Sanders, objected to the cuts themselves.

-The measure now heads to the president's desk, where his signature awaits.  The question now becomes: What's next?  This action forestalls a government impasse by two weeks, but doesn't resolve the larger issue of further 2011 spending.  Sen. Chuck Schumer just called the temporary CR a Republican "stalling tactic."  (Rich, coming from a leader of a party that intentionally declined to even offer a budget proposal last year).  The White House, the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the Republican House will forge ahead with difficult negotiations.  Democrats have made clear that the full raft of $61 Billion in GOP spending cuts (think Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, etc) are non-starters.  The real risk of government shutdown will come if Democrats refuse to adopt cuts to programs they cherish (again, think Planned Parenthood, Obamacare).

*Sen. Hatch seems determined to avoid the fate of his erstwhile Utah colleague Bob Bennett -- who was ousted as the GOP nominee at the state's 2010 party convention, which  is dominated by conservatives.  Perhaps Sen. Lugar should be taking notes.

This post was updated to correct Senator Risch's first name and to add Senator Mike Crapo as a Republican "no" vote.