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Dems Cave on Government Funding

March 28, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

When Congress comes back from vacation tomorrow, it’s going to be another mad rush to keep the government up and running. This time, they have until April 8th to strike some kind of deal, either short-term or for the rest of the fiscal year. So far Democrats and House Republicans are about $50 billion off on how much they’d like to cut below non-security discretionary spending from fiscal year 2010, but according to reports, the Democrats are prepared to move further in the Republicans’ direction.

“The White House and Democratic lawmakers, with less than two weeks left to avoid a government shutdown, are assembling a proposal for roughly $20 billion in additional spending cuts that could soon be offered to Republicans, according to people close to the budget talks,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“That would come on top of $10 billion in cuts that Congress has already enacted and would represent a deeper reduction than the Obama administration and Senate Democrats had offered previously in negotiations. But it isn’t clear that would be enough to satisfy Republicans, who initially sought $61 billion in spending cuts and face pressure from tea-party activists not to compromise.”

No word yet on exactly what programs would be cut under the Democrats’ proposal.

Notably, The $30 billion in cuts that Democrats are now supporting (the $10 billion already enacted + this new $20 billion) is essentially the same level that House Republican leaders had initially sought before being pushed further — to $61 billion in cuts — by the more conservative faction of their party. Despite the math, however, the Democrats’ proposal won’t actually be meeting the conservatives half way. When the House debated the spending bill, dozens of controversial social policy items were added to it, stuff like blocking the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and defunding Planned Parenthood. A Republican aide speaking to The Hill suggested that they’re not willing to meet the Democrats half way on spending cuts unless the Democrats also agree to accept some of their social policy items. "I don’t see how $20 billion makes the mark unless it comes with some super painful policy riders for the administration,” the aide said.

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