Government Shutdown Countdown, Day 11: Budget Deal Will Be Thorny for Obama, Republicans

Tuesday, 29 Mar 2011 09:00 AM

By Dan Weil

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White House and Republican congressional negotiators are close to agreement on the numbers for a budget deal this year. But disagreement on policy and pressure on the Republican establishment from tea-party-backed members of Congress will make it difficult to reach an accord before the April 8 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, Politico reports.

money,l budget, countdown, shutdown, government, GOP, ObamaThe White House has agreed to spending cuts that would put the budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 only $6 billion above the $1.052 trillion target that House Republicans seek.

But Republicans say that, for a deal to be reached, the White House will have to make major concessions on legislative riders attached to the budget bill. If the administration doesn’t agree to the legislative riders, the level of spending cuts would have to increase, a person familiar with the negotiations told Politico.

Meanwhile, Republican fiscal hawks seek more extreme spending cuts. They are drafting an alternative budget for fiscal 2012 to rival the GOP leadership’s spending plan. So once again, the Republican Party is split over the size of spending reductions that should be enacted, Politico reports. The alternative budget is coming out of the Republican Study Committee (RSC).

The tea party movement backs the idea. Chris Littleton, a leader of an umbrella organization for tea parties in Ohio, chooses the stance of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the RSC, over fellow buckeye John Boehner.

“We can see you got a guy like Jim Jordan, who is also Ohio based, but he’s Republican Study Committee, has been a whole lot more aggressive on this, Littleton told Politico. “We’re very much supportive of his approach of being more aggressive. And you got Boehner and the — I’ll call them tenured — other Ohio Republican congressmen — who aren’t as aggressive.”

Democrats are trying to exploit the split between Boehner and conservative congressmen. They hope the divide between the two sides will widen, noting that 54 Republicans defected from their leaders on the last stop-gap budget the House approved, The Hill reports.

Democratic leaders, particularly New York Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, have accused repeatedly Boehner of giving in to tea partyers, as the Democrats seek to push him away from the conservatives’ stance.

Boehner is in a difficult position, because making a deal with Democrats would lead the most conservative Republican congressmen to revolt. Schumer and other Democrats would be able to say that Boehner broke from the tea party movement, which would further roil relations between the speaker and the Republican base.

But if Boehner doesn’t compromise with the Democrats, a government shutdown could ensue, alienating moderate voters.

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