A government shutdown is perhaps postponed … temporarily

February 28, 2011

Reuters outlines the basics:

Playing for time to overcome a deep partisan impasse over the budget, senior lawmakers backed away on Sunday from a possible government shutdown. Washington will run out of money on Friday and non-essential services will halt unless action is taken. A short-term fix to buy time seemed increasingly likely.

Amid concern about damaging the fragile economic recovery, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said lawmakers have “a moral responsibility” to address the huge U.S. budget deficit.

“That means working together to cut spending and rein in government — not shutting it down,” he said in remarks to be delivered to a religious broadcasters’ convention. “This is very simple: Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money. We don’t need to shut down the government to accomplish that.”

He said the House will pass a short-term bill that will keep the government running with some cuts, Boehner said.

President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to find “common ground” on spending cuts to prevent a shutdown.

“We’re very focused on trying to avoid a shutdown,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, in a C-SPAN TV interview on Sunday.

House Republicans on Friday detailed $4 billion in spending cuts for a two-week stopgap bill, which the leader of the Democratic-controlled Senate indicated could be acceptable.

A few thoughts:

1) The temporary budget fix merely pospones the pain for a couple of weeks. House Republicans still have to deal with Tea Party members who want deep cuts and see the CR as a way of leveraging their authority.

2) There is also less fear that a shutdown would hurt Rs since many believe the public better understands the severity of budget issues than in 1996 — but this opinion is hardly unanimous.

3) As the 2011 budget battle is prolonged, more of a chance it dovetails into the debt ceiling issue making a resolution even more problematic.


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