Republican Leadership Says There Is No Budget Deal
With just about 96 hours left before the government shuts down, things seemed to take a turn for the worse on Capitol Hill:
Negotiations between congressional Democrats, Republicans and the White House to avoid a government shutdown took a turn for the worse Monday, as top Republicans issued coordinated statements calling Democrats’ spending cut goals too low, and preemptively blaming them if the Friday deadline passes without a deal.
“Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “That’s unacceptable. … If the government shuts down, it will be because Senate Democrats failed to do their job.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) followed suit. “[Senate Majority] Leader [Harry] Reid and Senator Schumer are promoting false promises and using sleight of hand budgeting to achieve an imaginary spending cut figure that is still far too low by comparison,” he said. “If the Democrats demand to defend every dime of government spending and force a government shutdown, that will be on their hands.”
They were backed up by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY): “Senator Reid is attempting to abuse the budget process and limit the ability of Appropriations negotiators to complete their work – dictating the use of gimmicks and phony accounting to sneak more spending through the Congress and by the American people,” his statement reads.
“It is my sincere hope that Leader Reid will let the will of the American people prevail by allowing negotiators to produce real spending reductions, prevent a government shutdown, and bring this drawn-out saga to an end,” Rogers said.
Republicans have consistently denied that the spending negotiations have revolved around a middle-ground number. But this is the first time that they’ve come out and said that number is too low.
Of course, this could all be posturing, both to the Republican base and in preparation for tomorrow’s lunch meeting that President Obama requested today:
With the threat of a government shutdown looming if Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on spending cuts by the end of the week, President Obama is stepping up his role in last-minute budget negotiations and plans to meet with Congressional leaders over lunch Tuesday.
Democratic senators and Vice President Joe Biden have said both sides have agreed to a rough spending-cut figure of $33 billion but are still haggling over whether to include several policy riders on the bill and exactly where to focus some $6 to $8 billion of the spending cuts.
“The President has made clear that we all understand the need to cut spending, and significant progress has been made in agreeing that we can all work off the same number,” White House Jay Carney told reporters at Monday’s briefing. “With the process running short on time, the President will urge leaders to reach final agreement and avoid a government shutdown that would be harmful to our economic recovery.”
The time crunch is actually more severe than it seems, because the House’s 72 hour rule means that any new legislation resulting from these negotiations would have to be posted and available by sometime Tuesday evening in order to be voted on by Friday in time to avoid a shutdown. The House leadership could choose to violate the rule, but that’s likely to make relations with the Tea Party caucus even worse than when combined with any deal on the budget itself. This one is going to go down to the wire, it seems.