Congressional lawmakers have just hours to go before the federal government could shut down at midnight on Friday. For the past several days, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has accused President Obama of not leading. He’s eating those words now, since the president has played an increasingly visible role in the continuing resolution process this week, going so far as to command that Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) report to him and Vice President Biden three times in 24 hours.
As of Friday morning, negotiators, who worked until 3 a.m., were still at an impasse, largely because of ideological issues, such as defunding for Planned Parenthood and limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, Democrats say. But Republicans are arguing that the breakdown is due to a lack of agreement about spending levels and the composition of the cuts. So far the figure is somewhere between $34 billion to $37 billion, which is unacceptably low to House Republicans, particularly freshmen members. Both Rep. Tim Scott (South Carolina) and Rep. Allen West (Florida) have told BET.com that they won’t vote for anything below $40 billion, and they are not alone.
If negotiators do manage to produce a continuing resolution they can present for a vote, Boehner’s leadership skills will be tested. Because many conservatives likely won’t support it, he will need Democrats to form a majority.
Obama said Thursday after his second meeting of the day with Boehner and Reid that a government shutdown would reverse some of the recent economic progress the nation has made and “severely hamper” future recovery.
“What I’ve said to the Speaker and what I’ve said to Harry Reid is because the machinery of the shutdown is necessarily starting to move, I expect an answer in the morning,” Obama said. “And my hope is ... that I’ll be able to announce to the American people sometime relatively early in the day that a shutdown has been averted, that a deal has been completed that has very meaningful cuts in a wide variety of categories, that helps us move in the direction of living within our means, but preserves our investments in things like education and innovation, research, that are going to be important for our long-term competitiveness.”
( Photo : Landov)