The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee says Republicans have blocked about $20 billion of additional spending requested by the Obama administration in the continuing budget resolution that Congress will consider today.
"This Congress is a spendthrift Congress," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). "It takes a San Francisco approach to spending, which is you spend every dime and then you put the rest of it on the credit card and pass it on to the kids. And that's just the way things are around here right now."
The "CR" will keep the government operating through Dec. 3. It is necessary because the government's fiscal year 2010 ends Thursday and Congress has not passed any new appropriations bills for fiscal 2011, which begins Friday.
Without it, the government would shut down -- which neither political party wants five weeks before the mid-term elections. The bill covers more than $1 trillion in discretionary federal spending for government departments and agencies.
"It looks to me like it's pretty close to clean," Gregg said in an interview with FOX Business. "By 'clean,' I mean it doesn't significantly increase spending in any account over the baseline of 2010, which is exactly what I want. That's the type of thing we should do around here. We should not be adding spending using the CR process."
The Administration's spending CR "wish list" includes $5.7 billion in funding for Pell education grants; $5.5 billion for the U.S. Postal Service; $1.2 billion to settle discrimination in Agriculture Department programs against black farmers, and $3.4 billion to pay claims that the Interior Department mismanaged Indian trust funds.
Gregg said he hopes Republicans will freeze future domestic discretionary spending in December, when Congress returns for a lame-duck session after the elections. Republicans are expected to pick up additional seats in November, which will give them more power to shape federal spending.
"If the American people decide to change this Congress, yes, we might have some leverage," Gregg said. "We will have leverage."
On next steps in the 2011 budget when the CR expires in December, Gregg said, "Actually, I wouldn't be upset if we had a CR for the whole of next year. That would actually just be a freeze, which is exactly what we need. Actually, we need a freeze less something to be very honest with you."
Some smaller budget items, such as $700 million to sustain aid to Pakistan to fight terrorism, will be added to the CR by agreement of both parties.
"We are encouraged that Congress is moving forward to pass legislation that will continue to fund government services critical to the safety, security, and everyday lives of the American people, and we are glad that Congress will deliver this necessary legislation for the President to sign before the new fiscal year starts on Friday," said a spokesperson for the Administration's Office of Management and Budget.