(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama outlined his plan to curb the national deficit over the long term Wednesday, Republicans on Capitol Hill were scrambling to keep their fraying coalition intact for a vote -- expected later Thursday -- on the budget accord that will fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.
“We can do better; we must do better,” freshman Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson said in a statement Wednesday, pledging to vote “no” on the bill when it moves to the Senate. “I made a commitment to support the House in its pledge to cut $100 billion from the budget … This is the first Continuing Resolution that does not achieve that level of spending reduction.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said earlier this week that he would vote against the agreement in House, noting that “voters are asking us to set our sights higher.”
Not helping matters was a Congressional Budget Office Report issued Wednesday that indicated the agreement reached between the White House, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would produce only minimal savings in the first year.
The CBO estimate shows that the spending bill would cut only $352 million from this year’s deficit between now and Sept. 30. Why? Primarily because billions of dollars in cuts to domestic programs will be offset by an increase in defense spending.
The Speaker’s office responded swiftly with a fact-check of the CBO report.
“The final agreement cuts nearly $40 billion in budget authority -- taking away the Administration’s license to spend that money,” according to the statement. “These are real cuts and will result in $315 billion worth of savings over the next decade.”
But adding fuel to the fire over Thursday's planned vote is pressure from Tea Party groups who are looking to hold GOP lawmakers accountable for their stance on the budget deal and the coming decision on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling.
“I’m literally getting emails by the hour from people talking about primary challenges,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler told The Hill newspaper.
And even one of the party’s presumptive 2012 presidential candidates -- former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- got into the action Wednesday, urging lawmakers to vote against the agreement.
“The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable,” Pawlenty said. “It's no surprise that President Obama and Senator Reid forced this budget, but it should be rejected.”
Boehner’s office did not take kindly to Pawlenty's advice. Michael Steele, a spokesman for the Speaker told ABC News, “The Speaker has always honored President Reagan’s ‘11th commandment,’” referring to the former president's adage to never speak ill of a fellow Republican.
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