Round-the-Clock Talks Fail to Produce Budget Agreement
Negotiators raced against the clock to find a middle ground on funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011, but despite apparent progress narrowing the differences between the two parties, a final deal is not yet in sight.
After emerging late Thursday from the second White House meeting convened by President Obama on the day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that talks would continue through the night. Absent an agreement to fund the federal government for the next six months — or one providing stopgap funding for one or more days — the government will shut down midnight Friday.
During the day, Senate Democrats insisted the two parties had settled on how many billions of dollars in spending should be cut from this year’s budget, and that the only significant issue was Republicans’ demand to preserve some of the policy provisions restricting spending on social and regulatory programs included in the House-passed budget, reported CQ Today. Boehner, however, said that an agreement had not been reached over spending cuts or on funding restrictions.
With the April 8 deadline fast approaching, the House Thursday passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open for one more week, but Senate Democrats said they would not take it up and Obama said he would not sign the measure. The bill would trim $12 billion from current spending levels while also funding DOD for the remaining six months of FY 2011. Democrats balked at several contentious riders, including one barring funding for abortions in the District of Columbia.