GOP House Speaker John Boehner says that he doesn’t want to close the federal government over the emerging budget stand-off, but he essentially told Democrats, “Do it my way.”
It’s the latest in the back-and-forth over funding federal operations through September once the current spending measure expires March 4.
The government would shut down without agreement on a new spending bill, which could throw the nation back into economic recession, Democrats warn.
“Struggling families in Nevada and across the country cannot afford the consequences of a shutdown, which could mean no Social Security checks for seniors, fewer agents on the border and no paychecks for our troops,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says. “I hope cooler heads will prevail, and Republicans will come to the table to work with Democrats on a responsible path forward that cuts spending without sacrificing more than a million jobs.”
Reid on Tuesday signaled that he wants to introduce a short-term measure to “give us time to negotiate a responsible path forward,” but on Wednesday, Boehner seemed in no mood to compromise.
The speaker notes that the House last weekend approved a long-term spending resolution that would keep the government running, but that legislation includes deep cuts to an array of domestic programs which Democrats object to.
“If Senator Reid refuses to bring it to a vote, then the House will pass a short-term bill to keep the government running – one that also cuts spending,” Boehner says. “Senate Democratic leaders are insisting on a status quo that has left us with a mountain of debt and a stalled economy with unemployment near 10 percent. That is not a credible position. Republicans’ goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government, not to shut it down. Senator Reid and the Democrats who run Washington should stop creating more uncertainty by spreading fears of a government shutdown and start telling the American people what – if anything – they are willing to cut.”
On Tuesday, Reid noted Senate Democrats would accept $41 billion in budget cuts, whiche says is roughly half the cuts House Republicans approved.
Reid says Democrats want to make “smart cuts,” not reductions that he says would lead to eliminating 65,000 educators, 800 border security agents, and other losses of government services.
Democrats on Wednesday also touted the publication of an independent analysis by financial services giant Goldman Sachs, which finds the House Republicans’ funding measure would reduce U.S. economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of this year.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) calls the GOP proposal “a recipe for a double-dip recession.”
Senate Democrats also have proposed trimming about $20 billion in federal spending by eliminating federal tax breaks to big oil companies which are in the midst of posting record profits.
President Obama also has called for eliminating the oil tax breaks, which conservatives defend.
Scott Nance is the publisher of the news site The Washington Current, formerly known as On The Hill. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.