ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The House and Senate are ready to vote on legislation cutting almost $40 billion from the budget for the current year, but President Barack Obama and his GOP rivals are both eager to move on to multiyear fiscal plans that cut trillions instead of billions.
Lawmakers were to vote Thursday on a long-overdue spending measure funding the day-to-day budgets of federal agencies through September. Later in the day, Republicans dominating the House will launch debate on a 2012-and-beyond plan that promises to cut the long-term budget blueprint Obama laid out in February by more than $6 trillion.
The budget deal has drawn high-profile opposition from some in the GOP. The Washington Post reports:
Thursday's vote will be closely watched as an indicator of fissures between Boehner's leadership team and the party's tea party adherents, who had pushed aggressively for deeper spending cuts.
"This is our day of reckoning," said Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), another swing-district freshman Republican. She, too, was undecided.
Obama countered Wednesday with a new call to increase taxes on wealthier people and impose quicker cuts to Medicare, launching a roiling debate in Congress and the 2012 presidential campaign to come.
Obama fired a broadside at the long-term GOP plan, which calls for transforming the Medicare health program for the aged into a voucher-like system for people under the age of 55 and imposing stringent cuts on Medicaid, which provides health care to the poor and disabled, including people in nursing homes.
More immediate, however, is the 2011 spending measure. It combines more than $38 billion in cuts to domestic accounts with changes to benefit programs, like children's health care, that Congress' own economists say are illusory.
Thursday's measure is a compromise between Obama, GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. As such, it's a split-the-differences compromise that considerably smooths a much more stringent version that passed the House in February. Click here to continue reading