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House Dems set to oppose GOP-led stopgap bill

With the sequester deadline in the rear-view mirror, House Democrats are staking out their positions in the next budget battle over keeping the government’s lights on after a March deadline.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters Tuesday that she's recommending that her fellow Democrats vote against the GOP-drafted short-term federal budget bill.

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Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

“I'm an optimist,” Lowey said. “I'm hoping that we can end this process with a continuing resolution that makes sense, because Democrats care about reducing the deficit but they don't believe that a sequester is the appropriate way to do it..”

Democrats like Lowey plan to oppose Republicans’ “continuing resolution,” which would fund the government through September 30th of this year, because it would reduce overall spending due to the across-the-board budget cuts activated by last week’s sequestration order.

They also say that the GOP plan to offer budget flexibility only to defense-related federal agencies is unfair to other programs.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who wrangles the Democratic votes in the House, said Tuesday that he is not actively instructing his caucus to vote against the legislation "at this point."

But, with Democratic leaders vocally opposing the GOP measure, it’s clear that it will only pick up a handful of Democratic votes when the bill comes to the House floor this week. (The bill was originally slated for consideration Thursday, but lawmakers now expect to address it earlier due to expected inclement weather. 

The White House said Tuesday that it is "deeply concerned about the impact" of the GOP bill but did not specifically threaten a veto if it passes.

Republicans are confident that they will be able to pass this bill without help from across the aisle, something they've had a problem doing in the past with major bills.

In particular, the conservative bloc of House Republicans seems to accept the CR as being in line with the spending levels that they believe were agreed upon based on the sequester's cuts.

"At the end of the day it's still the number we agreed on, so we're satisfied with that," Rep Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said. 

Huelskamp added he would like to include some provision related to President Obama's health care law, but said the $982 billion government spending level for the 2013 fiscal year would be considered a "win" for conservatives.

NBC's Carrie Dann contributed to this report.

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