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Dems, GOP in Congress begin dance to avert government shutdown

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House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin said he expects that bipartisan negotiations will produce “short-term extensions with spending cuts.” “We’re not looking for a government shutdown,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

After marathon late-night sessions last week, House Republicans emerged with a plan that cuts $100 billion off President Obama’s proposed spending for fiscal year 2011. Congress passed a continuing resolution on Dec. 21 to fund government through March 4. That resolution – worked out after Republicans won control of the House in November midterm elections – cut $41 billion off the president’s request, but did not involve any cuts in actual current spending levels.

But some House Republicans, especially the 87 GOP freshmen, demanded deeper spending cuts. Conservatives pushed GOP leaders and the Appropriations Committee to come to the floor with a bill that honors a Republican campaign pledge to cut $100 billion from the president’s proposed budget, or about a $61 billion cut in actual current spending. The bill passed early Saturday 235 to 189, with all Democrats voting in opposition. Three Republicans broke ranks and voted with Democrats to oppose the measure.

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