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Republican Appropriators in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed legislation Thursday to avert a federal government shutdown. |(From Rep. Tom Latham)

Washington, Apr 7 – Republican Appropriators in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed legislation Thursday to avert a federal government shutdown, cut spending by an additional $12 billion and, most importantly, remove the men and women of America’s armed forces from ongoing budget negotiations by funding the Department of Defense ñ including pay for troops and their families ñ for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham reaffirmed his commitment to U.S. troops and to averting a government shutdown by voting in favor of the legislation, HR 1363, which provides U.S. troops and the DOD with certainty regarding funding levels for the remaining months of Fiscal Year 2011. The Pentagon has asked Congress to pass a long-term funding measure rather than the series of temporary continuing resolutions approved for the current fiscal year.

HR 1363 was approved the House of Representatives by a vote of 247-181.

“Funding our troops with short-term stopgap bills is irresponsible, especially at a time when U.S. forces have been entered into yet another conflict in Libya,” Congressman Latham said after the vote. “It’s imperative that we give our men and women in uniform the certainty that their government will provide them the resources they need to carry out their missions. This legislation takes on even greater significance for my home state after 2,800 members of the Iowa National Guard were deployed to Afghanistan last year. Many in the Senate would like to see the Department of Defense budget used as an offset to continue the spending binge here in Washington. We cannot allow our troops to continue to be used as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations. We simply have to take care of the men and women who are risking their lives for our country across the globe.”

Without an agreement on a government funding measure, the government’s authority to spend money will expire Friday night, leading to a shutdown of government functions deemed nonessential.

“Anyone voting or standing against today’s common-sense funding measure is showing a willingness to shut down the government and block the pay and resources for American troops over less than 0.5% of overall federal spending,” Congressman Latham said. “That is absolutely unconscionable to me.”

Congressman Latham has voted repeatedly for legislation to avert a government shutdown over the course of the last few months, including a bill to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year and three short-term stopgap measures to give negotiators more time to reach a permanent agreement. HR 1, legislation that would continue government operations for the rest of the fiscal year while cutting $61 billion from current spending levels, received the approval of the House on February 19. Congressman Latham noted that in the 47 days since then, the Senate has failed to approve any legislation that would keep the government running for the rest of Fiscal Year 2011.

“No one wants a government shutdown, and I’m doing everything I can to keep that from happening while protecting our troops,” Congressman Latham said. “However, we can’t continue to spend money we don’t have, and any budget approved by Congress must contain serious spending cuts. If we don’t end Washington’s spending addiction, we’ll prolong the economic uncertainty standing in the way of real job creation.”

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