Washington (CNN) –- Vice President Joe Biden announced late Wednesday that House and Senate bipartisan negotiators had agreed to a spending-cut target of $73 billion in 2011 budget talks aimed at heading off a government shutdown before next week, when a temporary bill keeping the government operating runs out.
Congress has been passing a series of short term spending resolutions since October 1, when the 2011 fiscal year began.
‘We’re all working off the same number now - $73 billion,” Biden said, emerging from a lengthy meeting with Senate Democratic leaders in the Capitol. “Obviously, there’s a difference in the composition of that number. What’s included, what’s not included. It’s gong to be a thorough negotiation.”
Biden said he spoke with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and both men agreed the rest of the negotiations could be challenging in terms of reaching an agreement on what the make-up of the cuts will be and whether to include controversial policy restrictions in the bill.
“There’s no deal until there a total deal,” Biden said.
A spokesman for Boehner drove that point home.
“No, there is no deal until everything is settled –- spending cuts and policy restrictions.”
Nevertheless, reaching an agreement on the target spending-cut figure is a step forward in the negotiations, which have been marked by acrimony and public sniping between the Republicans who control the House and the Democrats who control the Senate. It remains unclear if Tea Party-backed conservatives, who have pressed hard for cuts much deeper that $73 billion, will go along with any agreement.
House Republicans originally wanted about $100 billion in cuts while Senate Democrats proposed $51 billion. Those figures are based on President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for 2011, which was never enacted.
The $73 billion means the two sides essentially decided to split the difference.
Why is this deal a critical milepost in the negotiations? Simple, yet complicated.
Republicans have a majority in the House and could probably vote out a more radical set of cuts. But without a compromise in the Senate, even if a proposal came to the floor, a filibuster could stop it dead in its tracks, since neither party can muster the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.
So, agreement among negotiators means that both sides, in both houses, may be able to make real progress in the nitty-gritty of exactly what programs get cut to get to that $73 billion figure.
I am sure the cuts will come from middle class and lower programs
and big oil, big business, big agriculture wont be touch, why elect
democrats if they wont fight for you, to hell with tea party pubs,
they are the minority, let me repeat it, to HELL with them. There is
a big correction coming in 2012.
I wish these legislators (all of them) would quit posturing and just do their jobs like we the public do. Bickering wastes time, divers negotiations help. Compromise is essential.
I hope that these budget cuts are not all our of social programs like the repulsive republicans have been doing. How about putting our war hungry military on the chopping block? We spent almost $1,000,000,000 on cruise missiles in Libya last week. That could have been used here at home.
For months we've been hearing/reading about this. Headlines come and go in minutes, and this is one of them.
please do not cut spending on education, infrastructure, energy, social security, R and D, medicare, science and technology, etc, Nation needs these for its progress......
This new found interest in the deficit is a bunch of baloney. When you vote to have the lowest net tax rate in 50 years, you create a deficit. It is as simple as that.
So the GOBP got more in cuts than what they asked. Boehner can stop whining now.