Government Shutdown Possibility Grows As War Of Words Over Spending Erupts On The Hill

Feb 17, 2011 4:02pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson & Matthew Jaffe report: The possibility that the federal government will shut down next month over the spending fight in Congress just got a lot more likely.

House Speaker John Boehner flatly stated today that the GOP-controlled House will not pass a short-term stop-gap spending bill that extends government funding at current levels once the latest funding measure – known as a continuing resolution (CR) – runs out on March 4.

“I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

With both houses of Congress out of session next week due to the Presidents’ Day break, passing a short-term spending bill would be a way for lawmakers to buy more time as they seek to figure out how to fund the government for the rest of the year. As it stands right now, the week of February 28 to March 4 will prove crucial in determining whether the government shuts down or not.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid quickly responded to Boehner’s comments.

“We're terribly disappointed that Speaker Boehner can't control the votes in his caucus to prevent a shutdown of government,” Reid, D-Nev., said. “And now he's resorting to threats to do just that, without any negotiations. That is not permissible. We will not stand for that. He's wrong.”

Now both parties are claiming that the opposing party is threatening to shut down the government.

Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said, “It’s time for the House Republicans to stop with the games and finally rule out a government shutdown once and for all.”

And today Boehner argued, “We have some Democrats here on Capitol Hill threatening to shut down the government rather than to cut spending and to follow the will of the American people.”

From the sound of it, lawmakers seem to be getting further apart, rather than coming together to prevent a shutdown. At the same time, they could always strike a deal on a short-term spending bill – with minor spending cuts – to appease both parties, avoid a shutdown, and buy some more time to figure out funding for the rest of the year.



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