House Republicans voted in lockstep today against nearly $350 million in proposed budget cuts and transfers of money that would eliminate most of the remaining shortfall in the budget through June.
The 55-43 vote came after the similarly party-line defeat of a GOP alternative proposal and contrasted with the last time lawmakers took a whack at the shortfall, when Republicans and Democrats came to a bipartisan deal before convening for a one-day December special session.
This time around, Rep. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup said: “It was a little more of the normal budget process, which in the past has been partisan.”
The real question is what this opening act portends for the main event, the two-year budget and its $4.6 billion shortfall. Will lawmakers return to the typical partisan divisions?
“We’ll figure out how to work together,” House budget chairman Ross Hunter predicted.
GOP floor leader Rep. Charles Ross of Naches wasn’t so optimistic.
“Today is the foundation day” that will set the tone for the session, he said, addressing the House’s presiding officer. “We’re here to be a part of the solution, Mr. Speaker. My fear is that we’re seeing those doors of opportunity for bipartisanship begin to close.”