By Jane Calderwood
The House and Senate leadership have been focused on efforts to find agreement on funding the government through the rest of Fiscal Year 2011. This past week the Senate failed to pass H.R. 1, which cuts $100 billion in FY11 spending. Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye’s (D-Hi.) counter offer that cut approximately $51 billion in discretionary spending also failed to garner enough votes. So House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) will bring yet another continuing resolution to the House floor on Tuesday for a vote. The new resolution would fund the government through April 8 and cut $6 billion in discretionary spending over that same time period.
The focus on funding the federal government in the short term has not stopped a number of senators from coming up with new ideas on ways to keep spending down. Last week 10 Republican Senators -David Vitter (La.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John Ensign (Nev.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.) – announced their plans to block any legislation that does not address spending cuts. Eight Republican Senators, lead by Senator Tom Coburn (Okla.), sent out a Dear Colleague noting that they will withhold unanimous consent (necessary to allow a bill to be considered by the full Senate) or place a “hold” on any bill that does not 1) offset any new spending with cuts; 2) requires sunset dates for any agency, office or program in a bill in order to ensure it is periodically reviewed; 3) requires the text of the bill and its cost analysis to be available for three full days before it is considered and 4) requires that duplicative government programs must be consolidated or eliminated. The Senators who signed the letter are: John McCain (Ariz.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), DeMint , Ensign, Ayotte, Lee, and Paul .