House Passes Full Continuing Appropriations Bill For FY2011

On Thursday April 14th, 2011, the House passed H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 by a bipartisan vote of 260-167.

The bill is a substitute for the previously passed H.R. 1363, which only funded the Department of Defense until September 30th, 2011, the end of the fiscal year. If H.R. 1473 is ratified by the Senate, and signed by the President, there will be no more continuing appropriations measures for the rest of this fiscal year, and Congress can concentrate on drawing up the budget for FY2012. The CBO estimates that the budget measure costs taxpayers between $20-25 billion over the next 10 years less than if it were written in accordance with the outlays spent in FY2010. A separate interpretation of the CBO’s analysis asserts that the cost savings amounts to only $352 million for this current fiscal year.

Fifty-nine conservative Republicans joined 108 Democrats in opposition to the bill, as it was seen as capitulation to the pressure put on the Republican leadership by the Senate and the President in the negotiations of the last weekend. The 81 Democrats who joined the moderate Republicans in favor of the bill are generally considered moderate to conservative “bluedog” Democrats, and their stand with Speaker Boehner’s leadership may presage a bipartisan voting bloc at odds with Tea Party House members who are becoming uncomfortable with Boehner’s ease at reaching across the aisle for his own political gain.

The Tea Party Caucus under the leadership of Rep. Michele Bachmann assumed after the 2010 elections that they would be able to hold a linchpin position in the House, and keep the more fiscally moderate Republicans in line with them, in opposition to the Democrat minority. It was not foreseen that the Republican leadership would abandon them and their fiscally conservative position to garner support among moderate Democrats in order to pass irresponsible budgetary measures.

If the Speaker’s political tactic of reaching out to moderate Democrats in lieu of the conservative members of his own party continues in the FY2012 budget proceedings, it is assured that he will lose all support by Tea Party members in his reelection effort, and be replaced in the next Congressional session.

To see whether your own Representative voted in a responsible manner, go here for the vote tally.

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