ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
As another deadline to fund the federal government quickly approaches and negotiations on a long-term deal between the White House and Congressional leadership seem to stall, House Republicans Friday once again introduced a short-term continuing resolution that would keep the government open while cutting about $6 billion over the next three weeks.
Speaker of the House John Boehner says that the onus now falls on President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “come forward with a coherent position that will facilitate discussions leading to enactment of a long-term measure that cuts spending.”
“The short-term funding measure introduced in the House today will give the American people another round of spending cuts as they wait for the Democrats who run Washington – in the Senate and White House – to determine a position other than the status quo,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “The People’s House has already taken a clear position, passing legislation through a wide-open process that reflects the priorities of the American people, both in terms of how much should be spent, and how it should be spent.”
“The American people do not have an endless reserve of patience,” Boehner added. “It’s time to clean up last year’s budget mess in a manner that reflects Americans’ desire for a government that spends less and spends it wisely, so we can move on to address the current year’s budget and the full scope of the spending problem that is impeding job growth in our country.”
Today, President Obama made his most extensive remarks to date about the debate to fund the government, telling the White House press corps that Congressional leaders must “stop with the political bickering” and come to terms on a spending bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.
“We can't keep on running the government based on two-week extensions. That's irresponsible,” President Obama said. “We've got a war in Afghanistan, we've got a wide range of issues facing the country on a day-to-day basis, and the notion that we can't get resolved last year's budget in a sensible way with serious but prudent spending cuts, I think, defies common sense. So we should be able to get it done.”
Still, President Obama and Congressional Democrats are firm in their opposition to the level of the GOP’s sweeping cuts.
“I've communicated directly to Speaker Boehner as well as to Republican Leader McConnell that we want to work with them to get to a sustainable discretionary budget, and we think it is important for us to stop funding programs that don't work,” Obama said. “But we're going to make sure that we hold the line when it comes to some critical programs that are either going to help us out-educate, out-innovate or out-build other countries.”
Although the White House’s chief negotiator Vice President Joe Biden has been overseas on a five-day trip to Finland, Russia and Moldova, Congressional leadership aides say that discussions on a long-term solution are ongoing.
But with only one week until the current CR expires next Friday, Congressional leaders recognized the necessity to once again fund the government on an incremental basis.
Beyond the president, leaders on both sides of the aisle also have been critical of funding the government incrementally.
“Democrats have already met Republicans halfway on the budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. It is now the Republicans’ responsibility to show Americans they’re willing to work together to reach an agreement instead of funding the government on a week-by-week basis,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Friday. “The American people are waiting for Republicans to come to the table and join Democrats to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and responsibly reduce the deficit.”
While leadership on both sides insists that neither wants to shut down the government, earlier this week Boehner blamed Democrats for standoff.
“It's time for Democrats here in Washington to get serious about these budget negotiations. Listen, we're trying to clean up last year's mess. The Democrats did no budget. They did no appropriation bills. And as a result, they dumped this in our lap, and we're trying to clean it up,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference Thursday. “The House passed a bill that would cut $100 billion from the president's request for this year. The Senate had a couple of votes [Wednesday], neither of which received the necessary votes, but they've got to get serious. The American people understand that cutting spending will lead to a better environment for businesses to create jobs.”
On Wednesday, the Senate defeated a Democratic proposal to make $4.7 billion in cuts, while the House GOP’s bill that cut $61 billion over the next seven months also failed to pass in the Senate.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer warned that funding the government $2 billion per week for the next 30 weeks would be “an extraordinarily inefficient, destabilizing, and undermining-of-our-economy way to proceed.”
“I would urge my Republican friends to understand that between now and September 30th is the short term and that we ought to resolve [this issue], bring some stability [to the economy],” Hoyer said Tuesday. “The short term — ironically, September 30th is the short term. Unfortunately, Members of Congress think in 24-month cycles. You can't run a nation successfully and competitively in this world on a 24-month psychology. We need to think longer-term.”
But without a long-term deal, some the most conservative members of the House GOP Conference are staking out hard line positions on the CR, pushing leadership to include controversial provisions to defund Planned Parenthood and the health care law.
In a letter to House GOP leadership Thursday evening, Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Steve King, R-Iowa, threatened to vote against the short-term CR if $105.5 billion in automatic appropriations to the health care reform law are not defunded in the bill. The conservative stalwarts called upon all members of the House to sign onto the pledge to vote "no" on any continuing resolution proposal that does not cut the funding.
“We recognize the work to defund ObamaCare began with the inclusion of language in H.R. 1 to restrict annual appropriations from being used to implement the law,” the duo wrote. “However, we also recognize that even this language, if enacted, leaves on the table $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds for the law's implementation. We cannot successfully defund ObamaCare without shutting off these automatically appropriated funds.”
Absent that provision, both have said they will oppose the bill.