ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
The House today is poised to pass a two-week spending measure that would fund the government through March 18, cut spending by $4 billion and buy Congress more time to work out a compromise on a longer-term solution with Senate Democrats and the White House.
Congress is working to avoid a looming government shutdown – deadline: Friday night. The goal is to cut spending enough to satisfy Republicans, but not too much to turn off Democrats.
Speaker of the House John Boehner said Tuesday he was hopeful that he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would eventually be able to find common ground to cut spending and help the economy rebound.
“We all know that to create a better environment for job creation in America we’ve gotta cut spending,” Boehner said. “All of us know that cutting spending in Washington, DC never happens, and so to think that we’re going to have significant cuts in spending levels – it’s not going to be easy. And I think I understand that, Senator Reid understands that, but I think all of us know that we are going to cut spending.”
The House passed a seven-month extension on Feb. 19 that included more than $61 billion in cuts for the rest of 2011, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has insisted he would not bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote because he finds the cuts unacceptable.
Boehner, R-Ohio, said that by passing a two-week extension today, Republicans will fulfill their responsibility to keep the government open and also give the Senate would have more time to consider the long-term CR passed by the House late last month.
“I think we’re taking a responsible path forward to keep the government open and to meet our commitment to cut spending,” Boehner said. “The American people want us to get our fiscal house in order and this is a step in the right direction. If American families can do with less, there’s no reason why the government can’t do with less. And I’m hopeful that the Senate will get serious about dealing with the long-term CR and to fund our government.”
Boehner was asked whether funding the government incrementally creates more uncertainty for small business owners, but he put the onus on the Senate, where Democrats have refused to act on the House’s bill.
“A long-term CR through September 30, would be the right move,” Boehner said. “Why isn’t the Senate working on it this week? The House did its job. We cut spending to the tune of $100 billion below the president’s request. We sent it over there. Let’s let the Senate do its job.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer agreed with Boehner that finding a long-term compromise is in the best interest of the country, but called on Republicans to meet Democrats in the middle ground after thorough examination rather than settling unilaterally on an arbitrary figure to cut spending.
“You cannot,” Hoyer said, “run effectively a enterprise on 14-day increments. That’s irrational, inefficient, demoralizing for the employees and extraordinary disruptive to the private sector.”
“What we all ought to be working on, very intensively over the next few days, whether that’s five days, 10 days, 15 days, is providing for funding for the balance of the year, through September 30,” Hoyer continued. “[Democrats] understand in a democracy you have to come to an agreement. But an agreement does not mean going 100 percent the way of one party.”