The Democrats pushed the federal government one step closer to a full shutdown on Thursday when they pledged to block the short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) in the House. The White House said that President Obama would veto the House Republicans’ one-week CR to keep the government open while negotiations continued on a long-term deal. The government is set to shut down at midnight on Friday if no short- or long-term deal is struck.
The House Republicans brought a CR to the floor that keeps the government open for one week, cuts spending by $12 billion, and funds the military for the rest of the current fiscal year. The bill passed by a vote of 247 to 181, which means that 171 Democrats voted against keeping the government open.
Six Republicans voted against the CR for various reasons. Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) told HUMAN EVENTS that he voted no because, “I won’t vote for any CR that doesn’t defund ObamaCare.”
The White House released a statement that said Obama will veto the CR because it “is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.” Obama has said repeatedly that he would not sign any short-term CRs unless a final agreement was reached on funding for the remaining six months of the fiscal year.
“I have just been informed that the White House has issued a veto threat on a bill that would keep the government from shutting down, without stating a single policy justification for President Obama’s threatened veto,” Boehner said in a statement.
Boehner released the statement minutes before going back to the White House for another negotiation with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.).
The three met until late on Wednesday night. When asked about the late-night meeting, Boehner told HUMAN EVENTS that “many of us were yawning” at the White House. The President spoke at 10:45 p.m. about the progress of the negotiations.
“We discussed the impasse that we’re currently at with respect to the budget, and I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive, and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” said Obama.
Boehner concurred that the Wednesday night meeting was a step forward, but they took a big step back by morning.
“We made some progress last night, at least I thought we did,” said Boehner on Thursday morning. “But when I see what the White House has to offer today, it’s really just more of the same. We’re going to have real spending cuts. And I don’t know what some people don’t understand about this.”
Boehner added that, while there is no agreement on a number for spending cuts, “we were closer to a number last night than we are this morning.”
In the Senate, Reid went to the floor on Thursday morning to announce that he will block the House’s one-week CR.
“The House is going to pass a short-term stopgap. It’s a nonstarter over here,” said Reid.
Reid went on to say that the government-funding negotiations were being held up by a policy rider that blocks government from funding for abortions in the District of Columbia.
Boehner responded at his press conference, saying that “there’s far more than one provision that’s holding up any agreement, I can tell you that.”
As for the for the one-week CR, Boehner responded to Reid’s speech by saying that, “there is no policy reason for Democrats to oppose this bill.”
“The cuts that are attached to this, there’s nothing in here that’s any deal breaker,” said Boehner. “Our goal here is to cut spending, not to shut down the government.”
The CR funding bill that passed the House on Thursday, the Department of Defense and Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, would keep the government from shutting down for seven days. The CR would also cut $12 billion in government spending. House Republicans have already cut $10 billion in the two previous short-term CRs.
Reid is most irked by the House’s one-week CR because the Republicans cleverly included all the spending cuts that he had previously put on the table. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) pointed this out in a speech on the floor directly after Reid spoke.
“The bill that House Republicans will send over to the Senate today is nothing more than a smaller version of the larger bill that Democrats say that they want,” said McConnell. Democrat leaders have identified a number of cuts that they believe are ‘reasonable.’ The spending cuts in the House bill that we’ll get today go no farther.”
Also, the House CR would fund the Department of Defense through Sept. 30 so the military will continue to get their paychecks even if there is a government shutdown.
Further, the CR contains a policy rider that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia. President Obama signed the same provision into law in an appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2009.
“The policy provisions in this bill are provisions that members of the Democrat leadership have already voted for, and that the President himself has previously signed into law,” said McConnell.
Reid, nevertheless, called the House’s one-week CR a “sure way to close the government.”
Undeterred, Boehner put pressure on Democrats to force their leaders in the Senate and the White House to pass the short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown.
“We will send this bill to the Senate today, confident that those Democrats who believe it is important to fund our troops and make real spending cuts will prevail upon Sen. Reid and our commander-in-chief to keep the government from shutting down,” said Boehner in a statement after the White House veto threat.
A government shutdown is more likely than ever because of the short time frame to resolve the differences in spending levels and policy issues. The current three-week CR, which cut $6 billion, expires on Friday night. The government is being funded by short-term CRs because the Democrat Congress did not pass a budget nor any appropriations bills last year.
The GOP-controlled House passed a CR in February that funded the government for the rest of FY11, cut $61 billion in government spending, and included 67 amendments with specific spending limitations. The Democrat-controlled Senate voted against the bill, but did not offer an alternative.
“I can’t speak to the fact that the Senate hasn’t acted in 47 days,” said Boehner on Thursday. “This whole process would have been a lot easier if the Senate and the White House actually had a position, but they don’t.”
Boehner reiterated several times on Thursday that the overarching goal has always been to cut government spending. The federal budget deficit for this current fiscal year is projected to be $1.6 trillion, and the U.S. debt is at $14.1 trillion and rising.
“Everyone working—well, I don’t want to say everyone—I’m going to continue to work to keep the government open,” said Boehner. “But there’s still a disagreement in terms of making real spending cuts.”