Speaker Boehner Digs In, Renews Call for Washington Democrats to Cut Spending

By John R Parkinson

Mar 15, 2011 12:42pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:

Hours before the House of Representatives is set to vote Tuesday afternoon on another short-term continuing resolution to once again avoid a government shutdown, Speaker of the House John Boehner renewed his call to the White House and Senate Democrats to come forth with their own proposal to cut spending and bring “real fiscal responsibility back Washington.”

“The House passed a bill that cut $61 billion from current spending line. What has the Senate passed?” Boehner, R-Ohio, asked. “They've passed nothing. Why can't the Senate show us what they're capable of producing? I don't know what that number is, and when we get that number, we'll have a better opportunity to have real negotiations in a real conference on cutting spending, reducing the uncertainty and having a better environment for job creation in the country.”

Today’s extension maintains that $2 billion per week pace, cutting $6 billion over the next three weeks and keeping the government open until April 8.

Boehner said the $10 billion in spending cuts from the two short-term CRs are “a small down payment on our commitment to the American people that we have real fiscal responsibility” and warned President Obama that if Washington Democrats do not agree to meaningful, long-term spending cuts, the prospect of a showdown over increasing the debt limit could swell.

“We will not shrink from the responsibility that we have to bring real fiscal sense to this government. We'll make the tough choices,” Boehner said. “And then when it comes to the debt limit — you know, the president asked for us to increase the debt limit — well, we don't want anything attached to it. We're not going to increase the debt limit of the United States without real spending cuts and real changes in the way we spend the people's money.”

While Boehner and House Republicans passed $61 billion in cuts Feb. 19, they have been unable to reach a compromise on a long-term deal with Senate Democrats as yet another deadline to extend federal funding approaches Friday.

As leaders from both sides dug in their heels in recent weeks and the threat of a government shutdown grew stronger, Congress settled on a two-week CR that included $4 billion in cuts in order to buy more time for congressional leaders to negotiate with the White House’s chief negotiator, Vice President Biden.

But with negotiations at an apparent standstill and the temporary extension set to expire Friday, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy criticized the White House for failing to lead on a resolution to the impasse.

“After that vote [on the short-term CR] the president calls and sends the vice president down. The vice president has one meeting and leaves the country when the government's only funded for two weeks. We have done our job. We have sent it forward. The majority party in the Senate, the Democrats and the president have to show some leadership. The American public wants some leadership. You can't negotiate with yourself,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “That's the frustration you feel here in the House: that we want to see this done, we want to move on to the next budget. Because this is about more than just the fiscal responsibility. This is about creating jobs, and this is about building the American dream.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the meeting with Congressional leadership and Biden March 3 was “positive” but conceded that “more works needs to be done”  before both sides agree to a deal.

“It’s not just about the dollars, it’s about the values and again we can cut in a way that does not undermine our values,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “We have an opportunity now for the President and the American people and the Congress, to engage in a debate on the direction we want to go, certainly fiscally sound. And when we talk about fiscal soundness, it’s not just about cuts. As the Fiscal Commission talked about, it’s about what they called revenue earmarks as well, tax breaks that are within are tax codes that do not belong there. We need to cut those too.  And I’m so pleased that the President in the State of the Union address once again said that we cannot afford tax cuts for the wealthiest people in our country.”

Boehner said he has is hopeful that we'll have a long-term continuing resolution through September 30th…but in the meantime, our goal is to cut spending and to keep the government open and meet our commitment to the American people of bringing real fiscal responsibility to Washington.” 

Numerous House Republicans, like Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, have indicated that they will oppose the short-term extension, insisting that Congress “must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces.”

“Democrats control both the Senate and the White House, and it’s time they stopped dithering.  We need swift action to deal with spending for the rest of this year,” Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a statement Monday announcing his opposition to the bill. “We need to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, and we need to defund ObamaCare.  And we need to start tackling next year’s budget, the debt-ceiling, and other challenges standing in the way of job creation.  We've made some solid first downs on spending.  Now it's time to look to the end zone.”

Still, while opposition from within the House Republican Conference mounts, Boehner expressed confidence that the measure would pass.

“I want the long-term continuing resolution over as soon as possible. But I'm not going to negotiate with myself,” Boehner said. “I'm confident the bill will pass today.” 

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