Flake Joins GOP Frosh Fray, Won’t Vote for Next CR

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a longtime fiscal conservative who is running for Senate, is closing ranks with his fellow Tea Party loyalists in rejecting the latest stop-gap spending measure crafted to avoid a government shutdown and which has the backing of the House GOP leadership.

“How are we ever supposed to tackle the grave fiscal challenges before us like the debt ceiling, the debt, and the FY2012 budget when we just keep punting on FY2011 spending?” Flake said in release Monday afternoon.Flake joins Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who chairs the conservative Republicans Study Committee, in rejecting any additional short-term budget solutions, which Rubio said are attempts to “nickel-and-dime” our way out of debt.

The defections are playing right into Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) hand. The Democratic point man on messaging and policy Monday slammed Tea Party-backed Republicans for preferring to trigger a crisis rather than compromise on domestic spending cuts.

Schumer has urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to dismiss the defections from his right lank and work with moderate Republicans and Democrats on a long-term spending package. The proposal was negotiated by Boehner and other GOP and Democratic leaders, as well as the White House, to keep the government up and running through April.

Flake has long been a leader on spending cuts in the party and no doubt wants to keep those credentials as he runs for Senate and tries to avoid a Tea Party primary challenge. But the defections are burden for Boehner, who must find middle ground quickly without risking other GOP defections in the coming weeks.

Tea Party lawmakers may be unwilling to accept anything short of extreme cuts in the House budget, even if it means shutting down the government, but Boehner and other senior Republicans lived through the 1995 version of this story and are none too eager to see it repeated.