House Republicans and Senate Democrats in talks to avoid government shutdown
February 21st, 2011
05:29 PM ET
12 years ago

House Republicans and Senate Democrats in talks to avoid government shutdown

Washington (CNN) - With funding for the federal government set to expire in less than two weeks, Senate Democrats and House Republicans are in discussions to avoid a government shutdown, a Senate Democratic leadership source told CNN.

News of the negotiations comes a day after several Republican lawmakers indicated they might accept a short-term spending bill as long as it included at least some spending reductions and not necessarily the deeper cuts the House approved last weekend.

Senate Democratic leaders reacted positively to those comments Monday, said the source, and hope it will lead to an agreement before March 4, when a government shutdown would begin if the House and Senate fail to reach an agreement.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, said on NBC's Meet the Press, "there will probably be a temporary [spending bill], but it should have some spending cuts as a down payment on controlling the size of government."

"My guess is we'll probably have some short-term extensions while we negotiate these things with spending cuts," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on CBS's Face the Nation.

Publicly, House Speaker John Boehner has said Senate Democrats should accept the entire $60 billion in cuts Republicans pushed through the House early Saturday morning, many of which chip away at the priorities of congressional Democrats and President Obama. However, privately House Republican leaders are acknowledging the need for a stopgap measure to continue funding the government while they negotiate spending levels for the bill a longer-term bill to fund the government through Oct. 1.

"Everyone knows that, no matter what the truth, we would be blamed [for a government shutdown], so it would be a dumb political move," one House Republican leadership aide told CNN.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he does not want to agree to additional spending cuts this budget year but privately Senate Democratic leaders are bending on the issue.

"If they send something over with cuts we could probably accept it," said one Senate Democratic leadership aide.

After dozens of conservative freshmen Republicans forced their leaders to add billions of dollars more in cuts to the House bill, showing daylight between the new members and top Republicans about how deeply cuts should go, it was unclear whether the freshmen would agree to a stopgap measure to fund the government.

CNN has learned House Republican leaders are pushing them to accept only modest cuts in the short-term to avoid a government shutdown. They've made the pitch in staff-level discussions, one-on-one meetings between leaders and freshman lawmakers, and a group meeting Friday with more than 70 freshman Republicans and Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, according to two freshmen who were there.

It appears the hard sell is working.

Rep. Tim Scott. R-South Carolina, a Tea Party-backed freshman who was elected by his colleagues to serve as liaison to the House GOP leadership, told CNN Monday, "the time is short for the Senate to come up with on a long-term solution so we are prepared for a short term conversation on a short term [spending bill]."

Another Tea Party-backed freshman, Rep. Raul Labrador. R-Idaho, said he is on board, but only to a point.

"After one or two short term [spending bills] you do start losing some freshman, and I'm one of them," Labrador said. "We can't continue to fund government at this rate. The reason we came to Washington, DC is to let people know we want stability back in the system. You can't legislate by short term spending bills."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. vic nashville tn

    Many pundits said last October that republicans will gain the congress but it will be catastrophe true now

    February 21, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. DAVE

    let the republicans shut the goverment down because there are more pluses for the middle clas than there are negitives! the bond values would go down along with the value of the american dollar. it makes over seas labor paid for by american companies cost more . it makes imports cost more at the same time it makes american products cost less. it also makes rich people in this country worth much less because their wealth is based on the american dollar. it also puts republicans in a position of kicking the rears of the very people they hold dear which is the rich. the rich needs to wise up about the current budget problem because balancing the budget does not creat one job and it does not build the wealth of this countries future either. new education goals does ,new anvanced products to sell in the world markets does, spending govewrment money on these goals plus privite money does build our future. if the very rich sit on all the marbles they have and do not help the future of this country they are going to wake up someday to see that the marbles no longer have any value at all!

    February 21, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. T'sah from Virginia

    [House Republicans and Senate Democrats in talks to avoid government shutdown ]

    What happened to the HOUSE DEMOCRATS and the SENATE REPUBLICAN'TS?????

    February 21, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. fayse

    The Republicans are playing chicken with our lives. Why is it that dirty politics drag the Middle and poorer class into their quest for power. The GOP / Tea Party / john Birch society are convincing Americans to vote against their own best interest. Please America use your internet to look up the Kock brothers and their father look up Rupert Murdock while you are at it. Tell me exactly what do these filthy rich people care about the common man/woman or child. The Kocks want to shape America to their liking, Rupert Murdock just wants to own the world. They are selling you a bill of goods that only benefits themselves. People may have voted in anger in 2010, which is what they wanted you to do. Now in 2011 who is paying the price? Vote them out all GOP and the and the green pea freshmen class. The election was about jobs and exactly what have they done to promote jobs? Nothing, they are pushing their own agenda.

    February 21, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. colowest

    So help me God if the Dems fold again I WILL vote a straight Republican ticket in 2012. If we are going to destroy the country I for one would rather get it over with so we can boot the theocorporatists out and get to work putting the USA back together sooner rather than later.

    February 21, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  6. valwayne

    Democrats think the Republicans are afraid to be blamed for a Government shut down so they intend to keep the massive corrupt spending and debt going on and on and on. What the Republicans need to know is that the majority of the people of the country are with them in demanding that Obama's massive corrupt spending and debt be brought under control so we can get our nation back on the road to full employment and properity. We know that the democrats are leading us down the "Road to Hell", and the corruption has to end!

    February 21, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. GOP = Greed Over People

    "Read my lips".

    If the modest cuts are made and passed, his lips are going to be tough to read while they are quivering and flooded in tears.

    On the other hand, we can watch Bawlin' Boehner eating his own words!

    How does that crow, taste, Mr Hysterics of the House?

    February 21, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  8. Magic

    If the gov't shuts down, so what? The people can have a free-for-all. Do whatever you like and to hell with consequences. No gov't workers, police, armed forces, firemen, NOTHING. No one to fix roads, control traffic, no air traffic controllers. I would love to see this nation come to a complete standstill for a week. AND THEN people would see the importance of gov't.

    February 21, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. Conor

    Set the stubbornness aside guys. You guys are wealthy politicians because we elected you into such power to face problems if we're ever at a critical standpoint. Try and picture how easy it would be to avoid this crisis. Go in there with a diplomatic mindset and work together to fix things.

    February 21, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |