Negotiators moving closer on spending cuts
March 30th, 2011
05:06 PM ET
12 years ago

Negotiators moving closer on spending cuts

Washington (CNN) – Democratic and Republican negotiators are moving closer to a tentative agreement on how much spending to slash from the budget and have begun drawing up a list of specific cuts, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Sources from both parties–who would not speak on the record about the closed-door talks–emphasized the numbers were not set in stone and could change as negotiators hammer out details of which programs and agencies to cut and whether a number of controversial policy provisions are included in the agreement.

"There is no agreement on a number for the spending cuts. Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to," warned Kevin Smith, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

Informal negotiations have been going on in fits and starts. Despite the newfound progress, the government runs out of money April 8, and House Republicans Wednesday moved to deflect blame for a possible government shutdown.

House GOP leaders announced they would vote this week on a bill enacting their proposed cuts, if there is no agreement before next week's deadline.

The vote would be symbolic, since the Senate already rejected the House-passed bill that would cut $61 billion in government spending, and President Obama said he would veto it. But House Republicans vowed to move ahead with the vote, dubbed the "Prevention of a Government Shutdown Act," should discussions among Speaker John Boehner, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, and the White House fail.

"We are serious. We want to take care of this problem and so that we can get on about the business of this nation and get Americans back to work." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters. Cantor said the bill would also mandate that Members of Congress not get paid if there is a government shutdown.

Reid said Tuesday that Senate Democrats are offering to cut another $19 billion in spending cuts, on top of the $10 billion that was cut in two stopgap bills passed to keep the government running. But when asked by CNN about Reid's offer House Speaker John Boehner maintained "it doesn't exist." Pressed about Reid's invitation to review additional cuts, Boehner said, "It's nonsense."

House Republican leaders know full well many of their rank-and-file conservatives will not be happy with any compromise on spending cuts beyond the $61 billion the House passed last month. One senior House GOP leadership aide indicated that the proposed $19 billion in cuts was unlikely to be enough to satisfy House Republicans.

That's why despite the behind-the-scenes talks, public posturing in this highly political drama continues.

At a news conference, Boehner continued to press Senate Democrats to act soon, telling reporters "We've done our job. Now the Senate says we have a plan. Well great! Pass the damn thing and send it over here and let's have real negotiations instead of sitting over there rooting for a government shutdown."

Talks had broken down last week when House Republicans insisted the Senate use the House passed package of $61 billion in cuts as a starting point to develop a compromise, but top officials say they have continued to have informal discussions.

Those informal discussions set the stage for more concrete negotiations Wednesday about specific spending cuts.

And Wednesday evening, in a late addition to his schedule, Vice President Biden was to head to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democratic leadership.

Filed under: Budget • Congress
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    It's all an act to make us think they are working to serve us. BS !! They-re probably planning what to do on this yet again long weekend. Kick ALL of them out.

    March 30, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. John

    Hmmm. Interesting that CNN doesn't have one word in this article (maybe the entire website) regarding Mr. Schumer's inability to recognize who is on conference calls when unsubstantiated name-calling tactics are discussed. Mr. Schumer did well to finally cast the majority of his party in the correct light. Republican plans apparently aren't "extreme" – Dems use this word to scare the American public. People should already be used to these scare tactics.

    March 30, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. valwayne

    If the Republicans cave on the tiny spending cuts they've proposed and let Obama's massive corrupt spending and debt continue they can likely forget my vote in 2012! Maybe Obama and Harry Reid will vote Republican in appreciation for keeping the nation on the course to total financial collapse!

    March 30, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Boehner is useless and is under a lot of pressure from his own party. LOL

    March 30, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. RTinKC

    "House Republicans Wednesday moved to deflect blame for a possible government shutdown". Funny how the article doesn't mention that the government shutdown wouldn't be a possibility if the Democratic controlled Congress of last year had already passed a budget for 2011. No need for deflection from the Republicans.

    March 30, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. Mr.Boombostick

    If the Republican lawmakers make their decisions based on reelection and the tea party instead of whats right for nation then they have not fulfilled their congressional dution of compromising and doing whats best for the nation. Republicans are still being held hostage by the tea party and they call Obama a thug.

    March 30, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. WiredwierdinSF

    Let's hope they don't get to close, that corrupt Harry Reid and "Where is the Camera" Schumer are saying some great lies about the TEA Party and disparaging those of us who don't like being ruled by inept, corrupt, incompetent presidnets and slimy union bosses, just like they did prior to the elections last November. Keep those insults, degradation and demonization coming democrat liberals, we can clean out what is left of you.

    March 30, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. California Conservative

    Either cut spending or watch us default on our debts when it goes over the debt ceiling because thee debt ceiling will NOT be raised. It's up to you Democrats, the party of NO CUTS.

    March 30, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. one voice

    The Middle class, lower class, education, food programs for the less fortunate, health care, research and developement can ALL be saved if the GOP would allow the mega rich corporations to get taxed and regulated. ALL these bullies need to pull their weight after 10 years of CORPORATE WELFARE.

    March 30, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. Mtnjim

    I say give the Republicans ALL the cuts they want, then when they crash the economy, just like they did in 1933 when the country was beginning to recover from '29 we wont have to worry about any Republicans being elected for 30 years!!

    March 30, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  11. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    I am glad everyone on the hill is playing politics while we sit and suffer. When are they going to understand that what the GOP is doing is scaring the heck out of most of us. Cut your salaries, pay more for your benefits, cut defense, don't come home until you figure this out. We pay you way too much for doing nothing.

    March 30, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  12. T'sah from Virginia

    Cutting beyond $61 Billion plays into the TP hands!!! I think the LEFT is compromising more than the RIGHT and the RIGHT is caught in a tangle they themselves cannot untangle – So why should we help them!!!

    March 30, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  13. cook

    Well wouldn't it have made sense to agree on a budget to pay your own people before giving billions of dollars to a country that does not even consider our nation one of their allies. That money could have gone into our economy or toward tragedy into relationships with nations like Japan to help us here at home. Still hoping that the ones we chose will get it done, and we can have the faith in them that we have during election time.

    March 30, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  14. Albo58

    If the only way to get the attention of this President and his Dimwit allies in the Congress is to shutdown the government so they can focus on our deficit, then we need to do just that! Sure, the Dimwits will immediately start pointing fingers, but even the blind can see that we have an aloof POTUS that has not exhibitied one speck of leadership in getting a responsible 2011 budget passed!

    March 30, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  15. Randy, San Francisco

    The negotiations will be a wasted effort if Speaker Boehner cannot deliver the required votes from his party, Tea Party extremists in Congress would like nothing better than to see a government shut down. It will provide them a soap box to push their agenda.

    March 30, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. Sgt Schultz

    Get it done. Stop pointing fingers and blaming the other side of the aisle. Republicans had control of Congress and the White House from 2001 – 2006. The Dem's had it from 2008 – 2010. Both sides have to start to look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable for this mess.

    Defense spending is more than the rest of the world's military combined...that's totally out of control. We need deep cuts in defense. We also need to decriminalize marijuana and find a cheaper way of fighting drug abuse. The War on Drugs is a losing proposition and has cost the nation dearly in wasted $ and resources that would be better spent on prevention and fixing our education system.

    March 30, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. willie floyd

    Cantor-"get Americans back to work". At the same time proposing cuts that will cause a loss of jobs. Sound Rep. reasoning.
    Wish they would listen to economists who have said cutting spending while coming out of a recession is absolutely the wrong thing to do. If they were smart they would listen to them instead of these goofy "tea partiers".

    March 30, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    And Wednesday evening, in a late addition to his schedule, Vice President Biden was to head to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democratic leadership.
    What, to keep them from compromising his bullet trains away?!?!

    March 30, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. Patrick from Minnesota

    I don't care what they do as long as we cut Republican lawmakers on 6 November 2012.

    March 30, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. MissDaisy

    Our country is going to look like the Middle East with revolts, name it if congress thinks we are all so stupid to think we don't care who they are giving "OUR" money to! For crying out loud elected your damn jobs and quit stealing from us all to enrich yourselves, your family and your know them, they are the top crooks in our country.

    March 30, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  21. Al-NY,NY

    the T-P has the Man from Tan and his colleagues by the you-know-whats and will not compromise on anything short of their professed manifesto of cutting anything that doesn't suit them and their friends. Good luck Mr. Weepy. You're gonna need it. You don't have to worry about the democrats exposing your weaknesses. Your "friends" from the T-P will do it for them

    March 30, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    The Dems and Pres. Obama did all the compromising they need to do with the hundreds of billions in tax cuts that we can't afford, which were passed last fall and added to the deficit. So now let them shut down the government over $60 billion or so.

    Dems should not back down again, especially if repugs want to cut back on the EPA or other important items.

    March 30, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |