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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Perfict Storm Has Hit,Washington,Over Budget Mess,/And The Dem Majority Leader,(Harry Reid)Has Been Ask To Step Down

Budget Deal Elusive as Congressional Leaders Face Pressure to Avoid Shutdown

Published April 06, 2011


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill April 5.

The day-to-day functions of government -- from running national parks to sending out tax refunds -- were hanging in the balance Wednesday as both chambers of Congress and the White House struggled to hammer out an elusive budget deal before funding runs out Friday, triggering a partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers appeared to be caught in a political perfect storm, with several simultaneous budget deals complicating negotiations over the rest of this year's budget.

Conservative lawmakers want to cut as much as possible now, to set the tone for talks over next year's budget and spending for the rest of the decade. GOP Rep. Paul Ryan just introduced a plan to cut deficits by $4.4 trillion over 10 years. President Obama and Democrats, by contrast, want to use a "scalpel," rather than an ax, to address the deficit.

An upcoming vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling doesn't make things any easier.

With all this on the line, 2011 budget negotiations have been continually tested by the political rhetoric flying on both sides of the aisle. A White House aide said Wednesday there are "signs of progress" in the budget talks. But on the sidelines, lawmakers continued to hurl accusations at each other, pre-blaming the other side over the possibility of a shutdown.
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House Democrats convened a press conference at which they repeated the claim that the Tea Party is to blame for bringing Congress to the brink of a shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats have been trying to meet Republicans halfway, but the GOP has "refused to take yes for an answer."

Meanwhile, 90 House Republicans delivered a letter to Reid calling on him to either pass a budget or step down as majority leader.

"Unfortunately, you have failed on numerous counts ... but yet you somehow muster the nerve to say Republicans are the problem," they wrote.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also questioned Obama's pledge to meet with congressional leaders if necessary until a deal is done, considering he's traveling to Pennsylvania Wednesday.

"It sounds like a mixed message to me," Chaffetz told Fox News. "If he's traveling out of state but wants to be in the room, I don't know how that's going to work."

Obama met Tuesday with House Speaker John Boehner and Reid. The two later held a meeting without the president, but they didn't seem to make any progress. Several sources briefed on Tuesday's discussions said Boehner, at the White House, proposed offering $40 billion in spending cuts. However, the president told Boehner he should be able to convince his members to go along with a deal to cut $33 billion.

Republicans earlier passed a bill out of the House to cut $61 billion from last year's levels, and some lawmakers have continued to press for that level of spending cuts. Democrats have refused.

Obama suggested Tuesday that he had no interest in signing another short-term measure just to keep the debate going.

"We've already done that twice," Obama said. "That is not a way to run a government."

However, he indicated he could support a very short-term budget bill if the framework for a budget for the rest of the year is in place.

Boehner planned to address the media later in the day.

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