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Crisis averted, sparring resumes

The Senate today ok'd a short-term spending resolution that averts a government shutdown -- at least until March 18 -- and Florida Republicans began calling on Sen. Bill Nelson -- a favorite GOP target for 2012 -- to embrace deeper cuts.

Rep. Tom Rooney led 12 House Republicans in writing to Nelson and asking him to push for "significant, immediate spending cuts. The House last month passed a resolution that chops more than $60 billion from this year's budget, but Senate Democrats balked at the sweep of the cuts.

"If familes across Florida can respond to the economic downturn by cutting back and setting priorities in their budgets, why can't the federal government?" Rooney said. He was joined by Reps. Jeff Miller, Steve Southerland, Richard Nugent, Cliff Stearns, Gus Bilirakis, Dennis Ross, Connie Mack (one of Nelson's potential challengers) Bill Posey, Allen West, Sandy Adams and David Rivera.

A spokesman for Nelson suggested "issuing partisan, political letters and press releases probably isn’t the best way to work together to solve the budget deficit."

Florida PIRG earlier decried the House plan, saying it would cut Pell grants and programs that promote clean drinking water "while largely leaving in place wasteful subsidies and tax loopholes for special interests."