Wednesday, March 16, 2011

54 Republicans Defect on Spending Bill
March 16, 2011

Defections among rank-and-file House Republicans on the latest short-term U.S. spending bill exposed divisions that may complicate negotiations with Democrats on a broader budget plan.

In Tuesday's House vote, 54 Republicans opposed a measure to fund the government until April 8, forcing their leaders to rely on support from Democrats to pass the bill, 271-158. The legislation aims to give lawmakers more time to break their stalemate over funding the government through Sept. 30. The stopgap measure goes to the Senate, where Democrats who control that chamber expect it to pass and be sent to President Barack Obama.

Joining 186 House Republicans in backing the bill were 85 Democrats. Republicans opposing it included tea party-backed freshmen, other fiscal conservatives who wanted more spending cuts and social conservatives seeking to include policy directives in the measure on issues like abortion.

The vote underscored the challenge for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, as he works to reach agreement with Democrats on the longer-term 2011 budget.

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