Democrats and Republicans spar over possible government shutdown
February 22nd, 2011
03:47 PM ET
11 years ago

Democrats and Republicans spar over possible government shutdown

Washington (CNN) - With government funding set to run out in 10 days, and Congress on recess, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders sparred via press release Tuesday, blaming each other for steering the government toward a possible shutdown.

The sharp tone of the releases was in contrast to hopeful signs Sunday and Monday that the two sides were on a path to head off a disruptive shutdown that could affect a wide range of government services.

At issue is whether Democrats and Republicans will agree to a short term spending plan that would keep the government open after March 4th –when the current spending resolution expires–while they negotiate a longer-term bill for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. Last week, House Republicans passed a longer-term measure that would cut more than $60 billion from a wide range of government programs. Democrats call those cuts too severe and want narrower reductions.

The first press release, emailed to reporters at 10:24am, was from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“While House Republicans are hard at work passing measures to cut spending, grow the economy, and keep the government operating, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has yet to offer a plan and instead almost seems as though he’s hoping for a government shutdown to occur for political gain,” Cantor said.

At 12:17pm, Reid shot back.

Republicans “should stop drawling lines in the sand and come to the table to find a responsible path forward,” Reid said in a press release. “It would be the height of irresponsibility to shut down the government without any negotiations, as Republicans are threatening to do.”

For the first time, Reid said he has directed his chief of staff to begin talks with House Speaker John Boehner’s top aide on a longer-term spending bill. In the meantime, Reid said he would bring a bill to the Senate floor next week that would extend for 30 days government operations at existing funding levels – the very thing Republicans say they will not accept.

In a press release sent at 12:42pm, less than 30 minutes after Reid’s, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in. He called Reid’s proposal “unacceptable.”

“Washington Democrats can’t find a single dime of federal spending to cut, insisting on the status quo, even for a short-term spending bill,” McConnell complained.

At 1:32pm, Boehner issued a press statement saying, if needed, the Republican-controlled House would take up a short-term funding bill that would include at least some additional cuts beyond existing funding levels – they very thing Democrats say they will not accept.

A Boehner aide told CNN it is still unclear how much of a cut House Republicans will propose in the measure, but will likely decide by the end of this week.

Finally, at 3:30 p.m., Reid held a hastily organized conference call with reporters to argue that Republicans “have been very, very strident in saying it will be our way or no way.”

“We’re not asking for the government to be funded for the rest of the year without further cuts,” Reid said. “We’re saying, if we’re going to have our caucus accept further cuts, it has to be a negotiation.”

Filed under: Eric Cantor • Harry Reid • John Boehner • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. mj

    did the repubilcans ever think about REPEALING the extention of the TAX CUTS for the rich so they are paying their fair share. they get all the money and we get the crumbs thanks to you all (republicans). What is patriotic about the rich hording alll of the country's wealth and buying off the republicans along with the supreme court to make sure the rich continue to stay rich and the poor (oh well). I continue to be fasinated with those who vote for these folks who have nothing to offer them except their A$$ to kiss. You can't make be believe that all of the folks whose collective bargaining rights are being taken away in WI by the REPUBLICAN Gov are DEMOCRATS and NONE ARE REPUBLICANS..Seems to me FAUX news would have you believe they are all LIBERAL DEMOCRATS. When will the POOR REPUBLICANS SPEAK UP. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS YOUR PRESIDENT TOO! Watch the Republicans hold this hostage the same way they did in DEC.

    February 22, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Bradley

    So, let me get this straight? The gov't will just shut down? And in the meantime, we the people could set up a new government created not on out-dated, centuries old ideas? Preferrably one not quagmired in pomp, protocol, extranneous procedure and nepotism? Meanwhile this bloated behemoth withers to dust?

    Sweet! Easiest revolution evah!

    Alas, it's just a daydream...we'll be right back to the Cokes and the Pepsis fighting over the flavor of the week again before you know it.

    February 22, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. rusty155

    If the Government shut down It will be the Republican Fault and only the Republican. You Republican yes nothing but No for two years and that was ok too the Republican. Now you want to draw a line In the sand and say my way or the Highway Is Bull crap .Mitch McConnell Is a IDIOT. You Republican are wasting away your second chance you aren't even trying. The American People want both party too work together, Not one party Idea are better than the other. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell you are working for the American People NOT YOUR PARTY FIRST. The reason the American people want both Party too Work together Is because American People don't think either party is worst a bunch of crap. It just for Two YEARS the Democrats have at lease try to do something too make America better , It may not all work out good but some as. They just haven't say NO TO EVERYTHING and got pay for It to. I'm a Independent voter and a Republican could buy my vote right now. And the Party of Hate and Racist and Lie ran by the Koch's brother all so call tea party Isn't helping you.

    February 22, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Gunner

    To those complaining about the tax cut, it's only income tax. We all know there's 100 other ways to tax. Furthermore, we can tax & tax & TAX the $#@* out of the big bad rich folks and will never EVER be enough!! We must make real cuts in spending; Repubs are proposing a $60 bil. cut- a drop in the bucket, really- and the Dems are already balking. Ridiculous!

    February 22, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. hysterical

    Does anyone really care if the "government" shuts down? With the exception of the obvious necessities in government(military, IRS maybe, NSA, I dont know), does it matter if the mighty legislative branch doesnt report (or hope to god get paid) for a while? what exactly would be lost by that?

    February 22, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    Until Congress cuts its own salaries to 2008, or even 2006, levels, they are all a bunch of lying hypocrites. If they think there is a financial crises, they should lead by example. Otherwise, they are just playing politics as usual.

    It is really hard to take any of their "debt control" measures seriously after the huge tax cuts passes last year.

    February 22, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Bill

    All politicians are stupid fools. From one extreme to the other. They are ALL childish and immature.

    February 22, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Bill from GA

    And what's with these dirtbags taking the week off??

    February 22, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    They [Democrats] are intent on driving government debt to $25 trillion as fast as possible.
    For what reason, Four and the Door?
    If we're not for the middle class, and we're not for the billionaires like you say.
    I don't understand your comment.
    Why are Democrats intent on driving the debt to $25 trillion? What will they gain from that, and what's the rush to do so?

    February 22, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Here's an idea whose time has come!

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011
    1. Term Limits.
    12 years only, one of the possible options below..
    A. Two Six-year Senate terms
    B. Six Two-year House terms
    C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms
    2. No Tenure / No Pension.
    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
    3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.
    4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
    5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
    6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
    7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
    8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective the day this becomes law.

    The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

    February 22, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. Matt Townsend

    This is what happens when a foolish half of our country elects folks who never have any plan or policy not geared towards the rich to run a government that they hate.

    February 22, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. vic nashville tn

    I kind of like republicans move because they losing middle class support. They want to cut $750 million on WIC ,Cut $ 1billion on community health services but giving tax credit to rich
    Republican governors going after unions
    Working class Americans got clear picture of republicans now
    Republicans goal is not balance the budget something else

    February 22, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. B

    A great example of just why most Americans are so completely disgusted and cynical about congress.

    February 22, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Tulsa

    The Republicans are taking 60Billion from Head Start, Big Brothers and Sisters, why not end subsidies to oil companies? They won't go to bed hungry, I assure you.
    Why do the Republicans always take the little the poor have? I'm willing to pay more taxes, and I already pay a LOT. (single male 120K/yr)
    Are you so greedy that you can't provide for those who cannot provide for themselves? I bet you call yourself a Christian too, don't you?

    February 22, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Tulsa

    What about social security checks? National Parks? The people who care for our National Treasures? Which, by the way, are crumbling all around us.
    Why not let's change the tax code by eliminating loopholes that let the wealthy get off scott free and multinational corporations and oil companies hide their earnings?
    You got a problem with paying your fair share?

    February 22, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. terry, va

    @ wire palladin...your comments are funny if not idiotic. How can the repubs not be for the middle class? They are always for the rich, one would assume by that comment. Here are the facts. 47% of us don't pay taxes. The top 1-2% of wage earners pay 41% of the taxes. That's a hell of a lot of repubs isn't it? Most repubs are middle class or even low wage earners. The difference that I've seen in whether you are a repub or a dumbocrap is social and work ethics. My repub friends would rather pick crap with the chickens than receive a hand out. So shut the government down and eliminate the checks. Only the disabled should be taken care of. Get a job. There is always something that someone needs done. Get down and get it like the great generation did !!!!!!

    February 22, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Len

    Shut down the government.......cut education spending to the bone....stop payment on social security checks....stop paying for healthcare.....raise taxes for the middle class.....cut taxes for the upper two percent because they will create jobs....cut funding for the EPA because the environment is not important.......cut spending for alternative energy projects, we would rather spend $5 a gallon for gas.......get rid of unions so middle class workers can become slaves......

    You get what you voted for........We are so unintelligent....

    February 22, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The lobbyist have already paid them, so they don't need to work for the American people but they will show up again when it's time for lobby payoff.

    February 22, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Len

    All you Christians make sure you go to church again on you can start sinning on Monday and go to church again on Sunday...and start sinning on Monday...etc. I know it is terrible to try to help others in need!!

    February 22, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    This is what you get for voting for GOPers and Teatards. This is what you get for supporting a "news" media that fails in each and every category of import with respect to all the professional responsibilities and ethical obligations traditionally (formerly) attributed to and placed upon those who want to claim to be journalists. This is what you get for allowing yourselves to be duped by angry bigots paid by corporate interests to swarm the internet and tv and letter to the editor sections of newspapers spreading ideologically motivated fabrications on behalf of their corporate masters...half the time unwittingly because they bought the false ideology in the first place. This is what you get for allowing our government to sell itself to those same corporate interests via the failure of campaign finance laws, allowing corporations to pretend that paid-for advertising isn't a donation if not directly given to a candidate and doesn't need to be 100% truthful...and, eventually, the politicization and purchasing of our SCOTUS by those same corporate interests, who own the men that appointed the justices. This is what you get for continuing to allow bigotry and blind religiosity to run rampant and become tools for manipulating voters, cherrying the top with nativism, islamaphobia and rampant conspiracy-theory demagoguery. This is what you get for allowing an entire segment of the population to believe that it's the other half of the country that's at fault for their crappy salaries, overbooked work hours and paltry benefits packages, as opposed to the corporate masters of the universe for whom they work and slave but who bought our government so that they could abuse the labor force, shrink the middle-class and turn us all (more) into indentured servants beholden to our employers because there's no way out of the consumer debt in which we're drowning.

    What you don't seem to get, America, is a clue. This has been going on since the 1970s and the first wave of deregaultion and union-busting. It's no coincidence that since 1979 the top 2% of wealthiest individuals in this country has seen their wealth and assets skyrocket by 281% while the middle-class saw an increase of barely 25%...accompanied by massive increases in the cost of living, the average family's debt burden for education, the average family's debt burden for a home in which to raise the family, the average debt burden otherwise (e.g., cars), stagnant middle-class salaries, the lowest tax rates in over half a century (particularly for corporations and capital gains), several purposefully created economic bubbles that benefitted the rich while hurting the middle-class and poor, a a couple recessions that did the same thing...NOT TO MENTION A STEADY STREAM OF JOBS LEAVING THE COUNTRY WHILE THAT ULTRA-WEALTHY 2% COMPLAINS BITTERLY ABOUT TAXES AND REGULATIONS DESPITE MAKING POSTING RECORD PROFITS WHILE WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A HUGE that is beginning to look more and more contrived and manufactured by these corporate interests/the rich and their lackeys in Congress solely to have as many people suffering as possible for political gain in 2012 and to get everyone so downtrodden that they'll gladly take the first job offered doing the same thing they were before BUT FOR LESS PAY.

    You want to draw false equivalencies between WI and Egypt, that's fine...but pay close attention, GOPers, conservatives and TEATARDS...because what happened there and what's happening in Lybia and is taking root elsewhere IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MASSIVE DISCREPENCIES IN ECONOMIC STATUS ARE NOT JUST ALLOWED TO GROW, BUT ENCOURAGED BY THOSE WHO PRETEND TO BE IN CONTROL. THAT is why the GOP has you nodding your heads to idiocy about getting rid of the Dept of Education and is specifically targetting teacher's unions. You know where they've gotten rid of teachers unions? Now guess where they fall in the rankings for things like average SAT scores and other measures of education success for their populations.

    February 22, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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