Budget meeting at White House ends with no deal
An Oval Office meeting Tuesday morning yielded no deal on a final budget resolution, raising the specter of a government shutdown at week’s end.
President Obama had called Tuesday’s meeting in an effort to finalize a deal that Democrats have said was within reach but Republicans had yet to coalesce around. Participants included Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).
In a statement released after leaving the White House, Boehner’s office said there was a “good discussion” but that Republicans would not accept a deal “that fails to make real spending cuts.”
The most recent stopgap spending plan expires Friday night, and failure to pass a new bill by then would result in the first government shutdown since President Clinton battled with congressional Republicans in the mid-1990s. House rules require any proposed legislation to be posted online 72 hours before a vote, which means a deal must come by day’s end.
House Republicans say their preference is to move legislation funding the government for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, but they have offered yet another short-term extension — this time just one week – to avoid a shutdown.
That plan would accelerate the rate of cuts for domestic programs that lawmakers have agreed to in past extensions — from $2 billion per week to $12 billion. Democrats are unlikely to support such a measure, however, and the White House was noncommittal Tuesday morning.
“We believe that we can reach an agreement on funding for the full year if people sit around a table in a good-faith effort to approach this in a reasonable way,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters before the meeting. “Our position remains that it is not good for the economy” to pass temporary measures, he added.
Democrats say there is agreement on the level of cuts a final deal would include — $33 billion — and that the sticking point was how to achieve that amount, from cuts to either discretionary or mandatory programs. Boehner disagreed.
“Thirty-three billion in cuts is not enough, particularly when it is achieved in large part through budget gimmicks,” his office said in the statement.
Lisa Mascaro of the Washington bureau contributed to this report.
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