The threat of a government shutdown looms a little larger in Washington Tuesday afternoon after President Obama officially threatened to veto legislation currently being considered by the House that would fund the government for remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. House Republicans want to cut about $60 billion from current discretionary spending levels.
"If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill," the White House said in a statement of administration policy.
The House GOP proposal is designed to replace the current continuing resolution, which expires on March 4. But because the measure is the first spending bill of the year, Republicans are using it to make good on a campaign promise to cut $100 billion in discretionary spending compared with President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request.
The House is expected to consider hundreds of amendments to the GOP-sponsored CR under an open process, highly touted by Republican leaders, and debate is expected to last through Thursday.
The GOP package is expected to pass in the House, where Republicans are in control, but to meet resistance in the Senate where Democrats are in the majority. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday said, however, that he will push to try to pass the House GOP plan or to push a proposal from Republican senators.
The White House, the statement said, "is committed to cutting spending and reducing the deficit so that current government spending does not add to the debt and has put forward a plan to do just that. However, the administration does not support deep cuts that will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world. The [House GOP] bill proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation, and would reduce funding for the Department of Defense to a level that would leave the department without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements."