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Forget 2012 - House GOP ready to ax 2011 budget

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer

WASHINGTON(CNNMoney) -- As President Obama prepared to defend next year's budget, House Republicans on Tuesday began swinging an ax at the current year's budget, which lawmakers have yet to pass.

House Republicans have vowed to cull $61 billion from the fiscal 2011 budget, and they've also pledged to allow any lawmaker to offer any suggestion for cuts -- meaning nobody knows at this point how much the House will end up cutting.

House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that cuts could result in public sector layoffs.

"Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs and if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it," said Boehner of Ohio, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee. "We're broke! It's time for us to get serious about how we're spending the nation's money."

There are already at least 400 amendments on the table and up for discussion in the next three days, and that list will likely grow.

Cuts to be discussed range from gutting White House priorities, such as Treasury's mortgage modification program for homeowners, to pushing ideological stances, such as banning federal funds from going to any unit of Planned Parenthood.

Although the 2011 budget up for debate only covers the next seven months, March through September, the clock is ticking to pass something soon. The current stop-gap measure that's keeping the lights on at federal agencies expires March 4.

The pressure is on Republican lawmakers to outdo each other,when it comes to cutting the budget. The GOP took control of the House riding a wave of public discontent of the mounting deficit and government spending.

"What we're doing here is we're having a great debate in Congress about how much spending we should cut. I mean, how cool is that?" said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, at a Monday news conference.

If lawmakers fail to pass a budget, or at least another stop-gap measure, by March 4, the federal government could be shut down like it was during the GOP showdown with the Clinton administration in 1995.

However, Ryan told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that Republicans would rather pass a temporary measure and avoid a shutdown.

The House is expected to pass a budget Thursday, but the Senate isn't expected to take up the measure for a few more weeks. Then the chambers will likely have to negotiate the differences and come to a compromise.

-- CNN's Xuan Thai and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report. To top of page

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