Federal shutdown once again threatens
Lawmakers have until March 18 to reach a compromise on spending measures
Funding the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year remains uncertain as the Senate has rejected separate spending proposals from Democrats and Republicans.
The GOP bill, which would cut spending this year by an estimated $61 billion, lost by 44-56, while the Democratic budget alternative to cut $6.5 billion failed by 42-58. Both votes took place March 9.
The current short-term spending law will keep the government operating until March 18. If Congress doesn’t approve a funding bill before then, the government will shut down.
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“There is no disagreement that we have to cut spending, which is why we have already agreed to meet Republicans halfway and have indicated our willingness to do more,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said after the votes. “But, we need to ensure we cut responsibly, and that we don’t undermine growth and competitiveness by cutting investments in education and research and development.”
The Obama administration opposed the Republicans' continuing resolution (H.R. 1), which passed the House in February, arguing that its programmatic cuts were too deep.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have met with congressional leaders from both parties, and are urging them to come to a compromise to “avoid a government shutdown that would harm our economic recovery,” Carney said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled in floor comments March 10 that Democrats are willing to make sacrifices to reach a consensus with Republicans.
“It’s time to get down to business,” Reid said, according to The Hill. “My Republicans colleagues set the deadline and the responsibility of meeting it as much yours as mine. It’s time for all political posturing to end.”
Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.