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Washington Moves Closer to a Shutdown as Budget Talks Break Down

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  • April 5, 2011
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A White House meeting Tuesday between President Obama and party leaders failed to produce an agreement over funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011, raising the prospect that the federal government will shutdown midnight Friday.

At the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broached the possibility that Republicans would agree to cutting $40 billion from current spending levels, $7 billion more than purportedly had been agreed to last week. It is not yet clear whether congressional Democrats could accept the higher target, reported CQ Today. The president did not embrace the new offer on Tuesday.

In comments in the White House press room following the meeting, Obama said if the two sides could not strike a deal, he would invite Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) back to the White House the next day.

With time running out before the current stopgap spending measure expires, the House Monday introduced a one-week stopgap measure that would trim $12 billion from current spending levels. It also would include a measure funding DOD for the remaining six months of the fiscal year. The proposal calls for $515.8 billion in base defense funding, $7.6 billion more than the department received in FY 2010 but $15 billion less than the administration requested for FY 2011.

The short-term measure would cut $630 million from military construction accounts as a result of savings generated by increased competition.

Obama opposed the short-term spending measure; Senate Democrats likely would as well, reported CQ. The House has not yet scheduled a vote on the new continuing resolution.

At the same time, the federal government began making preparations for a government shutdown. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asked top federal officials to begin sharing details of each agency’s shutdown plans with their senior managers.

“Given the realities of the calendar, good management requires that we continue contingency planning for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by the end of the current CR [continuing resolution] this coming Friday, April 8th at midnight,” the OMB memo stated.

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