Talks have stalled between congressional Democrats and Republicans trying to negotiate a federal budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, escalating the chances that the government could at least partially shut down next month.
Lawmakers have only two weeks to come up with a deal before a sixth, short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution, expires on April 8, and so far both sides are doing little more than pointing fingers of blame at each other for causing such uncertainty.
Democrats said Monday they were prepared to offer a deal to the GOP that would reduce fiscal 2011 spending by $20 billion through September, the end of the current fiscal year. According to Democratic aides, however, Republicans abandoned the talks when infighting broke out within their own party, which includes dozens of fiscal conservatives.
Many of those lawmakers, backed by the Tea Party, want the GOP leadership to keep their campaign pledge to reduce spending to 2008 levels, and they want nothing short of the $61 billion in cuts approved weeks ago in the House budget bill. The plan offered by Democrats would bring the overall reduction in the current budget to just $30 billion, including the $10 billion cut earlier in a series of short-term funding resolutions.
The negotiations came to a halt last week and have not resumed, a Democratic aide said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blamed the GOP’s conservative faction for the shutdown threat.
“Apparently these extremists would rather shut down the government and risk sending our economy back into a recession than work with Democrats or even their own leadership to find a responsible compromise,” Reid said.
- Government shutdown, Obama, and the GOP: The president shouldn’t cooperate with the Republicans unless they agree to tackle entitlements and defense. (slate.com)
- “AP Analysis: GOP wins cuts without government closure” and related posts (toledofreepress.com)
- Dems’ new offer to GOP: How about $20 billion more in cuts for the rest of the year? (hotair.com)