By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 1 – Democrats and Republicans in a House floor debate Friday charged each other with acting unconstitutionally. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, calmly told reporters that he expects negotiators to hammer out a spending-cut deal over the weekend to avoid a government shutdown next Friday.


House Speaker John Boehner explains the need to “get serious” on federal spending cuts Friday. Photo: Agri-Pulse.

The heated House debate ended with a 221-202 vote in favor of having the House-passed bill cutting federal spending this year by $61 billion become law if the Senate fails to act next week. Explaining that he considered the GOP bill unconstitutional, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, was one of 15 Republicans who broke ranks to join the Democrats who voted solidly against the measure.

Boehner opened his Friday press conference by welcoming the jobs report showing more hiring and a drop in the unemployment rate. But he said “Washington needs to do a lot more to end the uncertainty and get our economy moving again. It's clear that we need to cut spending, we need to stop unnecessary regulations and the threat of tax hikes, and pass the trade bills that are out there.”

Boehner said the Republican position is that “excessive spending creates uncertainty and leads to employers sitting on their hands.” He said that the House did its part 41 days ago by passing its bill, HR1, to cut federal spending this year by $61 billion. He explained that negotiations are continuing on a House/Senate compromise which might not achieve the full $61 billion but “We’re going to fight for the largest spending cuts that we can get, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get it as soon as possible.”

Boehner said it's now up to Senate Democrats “to get serious about cutting spending because cutting spending will lead to a better environment for job creators to create jobs in America.” He said once a deal is reached on spending for FY 2011, through Sept. 30, the next challenge is “the big job ahead of us of dealing with next year's budget and dealing with the debt ceiling.”

I've never believed that shutting the government down is the goal,” Boehner insisted. “The goal here is to cut spending because cutting spending reduces uncertainty. It'll help our economy . . . Our goal is to negotiate this and to get this finished as soon as possible.”

To achieve significant spending cuts going forward, Boehner pointed out that House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., “is going to introduce his budget very soon.” He said “There will be a vigorous debate over that budget . . . I've been here for 20 years. For 20 years I've watched leaders around here look up at the size of the problem of growing entitlement spending, it's like looking up at the mountain, they see how steep it is and decide to kick the can down the road for another year. It is time to quit kicking the can down the road. You can't continue to whistle past the graveyard. We are imprisoning the future for our kids and our grandkids if we do not act, and it is time to act.”

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