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WASHINGTON -- Moderate Republicans yesterday handed their leaders two embarrassing setbacks on Capitol Hill, stopping a $50 billion package of controversial budget cuts in the House and an extension of the president's tax cuts in the Senate.
The day's events illustrated the power of the small but stubborn group of Republican moderates on both sides of the Capitol who have balked at the efforts of GOP leaders to scale back funding for social programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps while advancing a $70 billion extension of President Bush's tax breaks, which primarily benefit higher earners.
House leaders made a huge concession to those moderates late Wednesday night when they agreed to remove -- at least for now -- a provision to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Twenty-six Republicans pressured their leaders to remove the provision in a letter this week