House Republicans send last-minute challenge to president hours before State of the Union

Chris Moody Contributor
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Just hours before President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday, the House passed a resolution to roll back spending to 2008 (read: Pre-Obama) levels, setting a bar that Washington will take pains to reach and sending a sharp message to the visiting president.

The proposal passed 256-165 with bipartisan support — 17 Democrats voted to roll back the spending levels.

The implications of holding the vote on the same day as Obama’s speech were not lost on Republican leaders Tuesday morning, who stopped just short of saying they would dangle the resolution in front of Obama as he enters the Capitol building.

“I’m hopeful that the president will listen to the American people,” said House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican.

The resolution directs Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, to set all non-defense discretionary spending levels for the federal government.

ABC News reported that Obama would announce a five-year freeze on non-defense spending. He is also expected to spend at least a part of his speech calling for increased focus on education and infrastructure, which he will include in his executive budget that the White House will send to Congress in  February. Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Tuesday that it just so happens that House Republicans plan to hold a vote on a government funding measure that very same time as well.

“The House will vote on the continuing resolution the week of February 14.” Cantor said, just a day after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the president would have his budget prepared that same week. “I know it’s a little bit out of the norm to announce this early the scheduling of votes, but this is how serious we are in delivering on our commitment to cut spending.”

That, or Republicans are sending the president yet another aptly timed message.

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