Washington (CNN) - While House Republicans grapple with exactly how much money to try to cut from the federal budget, their leadership announced Tuesday that the first big spending vote will take place sooner than expected – the week of February 14.
The federal government is currently operating under a $1.1 trillion stopgap spending measure that funds departments and programs at largely FY 2010 levels, which expires on March 4.
Republicans have vowed to reduce the level of non-security spending to fiscal 2008 levels, but have not given details on how they plan to do that.
"We have got to stop the criticisms and accusations and act in a responsible way to cut spending and to show the American people that we are going to take this country responsibly into the future. But first things first, we have got to cut spending," Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, told reporters.
Republican leaders are already poised to pass a resolution instructing the House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to cut spending back to 2008 levels. GOP aides say that is now likely to add up to about $60 billion dollars, since nearly half of the current fiscal year has already elapsed.
They are facing intense pressure from within the GOP party to keep the promise, stated in their so-called "Pledge to America," to cut spending $100 billion this year.
A group of 90 conservative members issued a letter on Monday demanding House Republicans carry though with that election year pledge.
House Speaker John Boehner said those clamoring for more cuts will be given time to make their case, as will those who are opposed.
"I believe it is important as Speaker to allow an open process here in the house, to allow members on both sides of the isle to offer amendments and to allow the house to work its will," Boehner said. "Gone are days of the leadership dictating to the members what they will get to vote on and dictating the outcome."
"Our intention is to let every member on both sides of the political aisle to come forward and offer his or her prescriptions for how we cut spending and reduce the size of government," Cantor added.
House Democrats remain cagey, taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the Republicans' proposals.
"I think you'll see some initiatives from our side as to where we think changes would be appropriate," Hoyer said on Tuesday.