CRUNCH TIME! Government on the Verge of Shutdown
Policy + Politics

CRUNCH TIME! Government on the Verge of Shutdown

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Obama said he hoped to announce a budget deal by this afternoon, but the federal government appears poised to shut down at midnight as Democrats and Republicans continue to talk past each other  after days of negotiations

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, continued to call on the Senate and President Obama to pass the one-week continuing resolution that passed the House Thursday with $12 billion in discretionary spending cuts, and funding for the Defense Department for the rest of the fiscal year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Obama, however, have said they would not support the measure because it includes policy riders to defund Planned Parenthood, cut federal funds for abortion services in the District of Columbia, and curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate climate change.

“Republicans want to shut down the nation’s government because they want to make it harder for women to get the health services they need,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Reid and his Democratic colleagues said they’ve struck an agreement with the Republicans  on how much to cut from this year’s budget – reportedly $38 billion -- but that the GOP is forcing a government shutdown with ill-advised social policy demands. Republicans say no such agreement was made and that Democrats have not gone far enough to curtail government spending.

“When will the White House, when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting spending?” Boehner asked during a brief  press  appearance at the Capitol today. “A bill that fails to include real spending cuts will hurt job growth and signal that Washington is not serious about its spending addiction.”

Today’s comments seem eerily similar to the rhetoric on Thursday – when negotiators met twice at the White House with the president --signaling the differences  between the two  sides s is too wide to overcome with less than 12 hours remaining until the government  officially begins to close down. If a shutdown were to occur, “non-exempted” federal employees would be expected to return to work on Monday to turn in any business equipment, including computers and cell phones.

Meanwhile, the Senate Democratic leadership  plans to offer its own one-week stopgap spending bill. However, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the second ranking Democrat,  has also put the House-approved bill on the Senate calendar for a vote. It’s not yet clear if a clean spending bill passed by the Senate would put pressure back on the House to drop its policy demands, and keep the government open for business until a final deal is reached.

Obama stressed the dangers of a government shutdown to the nation on Thursday, including  the adverse impact it could have on the fragile economic recovery. He said that if negotiations fail and the government begins to close its doors, it could result in the furlough of more than 800,000 federal workers across the country, delayed payments to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the closing of museums and national parks, delays in issuing passports and approving housing loans, and possibly an economic setback.

“For us to go backwards because Washington couldn’t get its act together is unacceptable,” Obama said.

As Republicans and Democrats continue to debate on the Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said everyone should hold off on the speculation.”

“A resolution is within reach,” he said. “The contours of a final agreement are coming into focus. There is virtually nothing in the troop funding bill Republicans in the House passed yesterday that won’t be included in a final agreement.”

“Let’s not disrupt and derail that agreement.”

Related Links
Majority of Experts Predict Government Shutdown (The Fiscal Times)
STILL NO DEAL! Obama Says Talks to Continue (The Fiscal Times)
Government Shutdown: 13 Ways a Shutdown Can Hurt You (The Fiscal Times)