WASHINGTON — Republicans battling with President Barack Obama over budget cuts plan to hold a House vote Thursday on a one-week law to avoid a government shutdown, despite opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats pressing for a longer-term solution.
The party leaders debated as the clock ticked toward a midnight Friday deadline. Even a brief shutdown could affect a wide range of Americans, from troops fighting abroad to tourists planning trips to national parks.
The move by Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio angered his Democratic negotiating counterparts and came after failed White House talks Wednesday night. The president said Republicans need to display more urgency, while Boehner said honest differences remain.
Thursday's Republican measure would combine a full-year Pentagon budget with a big slice of cuts to domestic programs as the price to keep the U.S. government running. Democrats and the White House oppose the idea, preferring to focus on broader legislation.
"It's going to require a sufficient sense of urgency," Obama said, "to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown."
Obama emerged before reporters to declare his differences with the House Republicans were narrowing but both sides were still stuck.
"I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive, and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding," Obama said. "I remain confident that if we're serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown. But it's going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved."
Obama had already ruled out the weeklong measure Republicans intend to push through the House, and Senate Democrats have labeled it a non-starter. Passage of any interim measure is designed to place the onus on the Democratic-controlled Senate to act if a shutdown is to be avoided.
At issue is legislation needed to keep the day-to-day operations of federal agencies going through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. A Democratic-led Congress failed to complete the must-pass spending bills last year, setting the stage for Republicans assuming power in the House in January to pass a measure with $61 billion in cuts. It was rejected in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Separately Wednesday, the White House hone to emphasize the stakes involved in the negotiations. The officials who spoke did so on condition of anonymity.
The officials said military personnel at home and abroad would receive one week's pay instead of two in their next checks. Among those affected would be troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the region around Libya.
Tax audits would be suspended and IRS refunds would be delayed.
National parks would close, as would the Smithsonian Institution and its world-class collection of museums clustered along the National Mall within sight of the Capitol.
As for the broader talks, it appeared progress had been made on spending cuts demanded by Republicans, though Democrats warned that a series of unrelated Republican policy provisions remain unresolved.
Democrats have already ruled out agreeing to stop funding the year-old health care overhaul or to deny Planned Parenthood all federal money, or curbs Republicans want to place on the Environmental Protection Agency.
Hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside the Capitol, calling for budget cuts and a shutdown, if necessary.
"Shut the sucker down," one yelled.
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