House Speaker “John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been working behind the scenes to draft a two-week stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown that would include less than $10 billion in immediate cuts, according to House and Senate GOP aides,” Time reports.
The House would move first – the Rules Committee is already scheduled to meet on Monday. Boehner is hoping to pass the bill by Wednesday. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been in discussions but if a deal is not reached ahead of time Senate Republicans would offer Boehner’s proposal as a substitute to Reid’s bill. The cuts will include reductions that President Obama has suggested and other non-controversial items in the hopes of luring support from moderate Senate Democrats who are facing tough reelections. No details were immediately available on what cuts Boehner and McConnell are looking at. “Senator Reid’s position that they will force a government shutdown rather than cut one penny in spending is indefensible – and it will be very hard for them to oppose a reasonable short-term funding measure that will cut spending,” says a House GOP aide. If nothing is done by March 4 the government will shutdown.
Reid’s office said Wednesday he still plans to move forward with a 30-day spending freeze at current levels. The House on Saturday passed a bill funding the government through the end of the fiscal year. But that bill slashes funding by $100 billion — cuts that are not likely to survive the Democratically-controlled Senate. The Senate has proposed cutting $41 billion from Obama’s 2011 request. Both sides agree that more time is needed to negotiate a compromise but Boehner has said he will not allow even a temporary extension without some cuts.
Jon Summers, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), has issued a statement calling this proposal a “non-starter.”
“The Republicans’ so-called compromise is nothing more than the same extreme package the House already handed the Senate, just with a different bow. This isn’t a compromise, it’s a hardening of their original position. This bill would simply be a two-week version of the reckless measure the House passed last weekend. It would impose the same spending levels in the short term as their initial proposal does in the long term, and it isn’t going to fool anyone. Both proposals are non-starters in the Senate.
“Just today, a nonpartisan study by Goldman Sachs found that Republicans’ proposal would drag our economy back into a recession, cutting U.S. economic growth by as much as two percentage points in the second and third quarters. Enacting these draconian cuts over two weeks would mean immediate, devastating impacts to the health of our economy and the safety of our communities.
“Democrats have already proposed $41 billion in cuts and we are eager to sit down with Republicans to find more. But Republicans are refusing to negotiate. Instead of working with Democrats to find more cuts, they are threatening to shut down the government and drawing lines in the sand. Their recklessness could send our economy into a tailspin. It is time for cooler heads to prevail in the House, and for Republicans to come to the table.”
He says the new Republican proposal would include around $4 billion in cuts.