Spending Deal Remains Elusive; House To Vote on Stopgap Bill Today
Negotiations on Wednesday between President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) failed to end the ongoing stalemate on the type and amount of spending cuts in the fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution package, which would keep the federal government funded through September, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Espo, AP/Boston Globe, 4/6).
On Tuesday, a similar meeting at the White House also ended without an agreement on a new spending bill. Congress must pass a budget measure by Friday, when the current stopgap CR is set to expire, to avert a federal government shutdown.
Democrats and Republicans in recent weeks have been unable to agree on the inclusion of several provisions in a longer-term CR, specifically two GOP policy riders in the House-passed FY 2011 CR budget bill (HR 1) that would defund the federal health reform law and block taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.
During Tuesday's meeting, Boehner -- who previously rejected a recent Democrat-supported CR proposal with $33 billion in spending cuts -- offered a counter-proposal that would increase those cuts to $40 billion, which drew swift criticism from White House aides.
Earlier, Obama and Democratic leaders rejected the GOP's proposal for a new one-week stopgap CR (HR 1363) that would fund the federal government through April 15 and ensure that the Department of Defense remains funded through September. The new stopgap bill -- which would be the seventh this fiscal year -- would cut $12 billion in discretionary spending from current levels across a range of federal programs and block local and federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia. Democrats rejected the proposal, citing the abortion funding provision (California Healthline, 4/6).
Prospects for Budget Deal
In media briefings after Wednesday's meeting, Reid and Boehner acknowledged the growing urgency to avert a government shutdown (Kane et. al, Washington Post, 4/6).
However, on Thursday, Reid said, "The numbers are extremely close, and our differences are no longer over how much savings we get on government spending. The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology."
Michael Steel, a spokesperson for Boehner, denied that the two sides were close on the size of the cuts. Steel said, "What Senator Reid said is not correct. There is no agreement on spending cuts or policy" (Rucker, Washington Post, 4/7).
House To Vote on One-Week Stopgap CR Today
Meanwhile, Boehner on Wednesday announced that he has scheduled a House floor vote on HR 1363, the new stopgap CR proposal, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Taylor, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/6).
During a meeting with members of the House GOP caucus, he explained that it was a precautionary measure -- should the talks fail on a broader spending package -- to ensure that the government remains funded for at least one more week (Washington Post, 4/6).
Republicans have indicated that they might be willing to modify the new stopgap CR proposal if the House and Senate are close to reaching a deal on a longer-term spending bill (Berman, The Hill, 4/6).
However, the AP/Inquirer reports that Senate Democrats -- who have called the stopgap measure a "non-starter" -- described the House vote as a political maneuver because the bill likely will stall in the Senate, allowing Republicans to blame Democrats if the government has to shut down (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/6).
House Panel Waives Three-Day Rule on Legislation
The House Rules Committee on Wednesday by voice vote approved a resolution exempting a possible longer-term CR from House regulations that require the bill to be released at least three days before it is considered on the chamber's floor, The Hill reports.
The resolution, which also clarifies the rules for debate on HR 1363, would provide Boehner with greater flexibility to introduce a spending bill as soon as it is available in order to avert a government shutdown. The full House is expected to consider the resolution on Thursday (Hooper, The Hill, 4/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.