Congress sets new D-day for government shutdown: April 8
The Senate votes to fund the federal government through April 8. But the stalemate over 2011 spending remains, and no one wants to pass another short-term stopgap. Is the stage now set for a government shutdown next month?
With a robust, bipartisan vote, the Senate passed a stopgap measure to fund government through April 8, amid signals that neither side will be willing to do it again.Skip to next paragraph
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But the path to coming up with a spending bill for the rest of fiscal year 2011 in the next three weeks is rocky, especially with President Obama not personally engaged in the negotiations, say lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Indeed, Congress now appears primed for the battle of wills presaged by the midterm elections, with Senate Democrats flatly refusing to consider massive cuts and tea-party freshmen refusing to accept token trims.
“The Speaker has a choice: He can cater to the tea party and inevitably face a shutdown on April 8, or he can work with Democrats,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York in comments to reporters after Thursday’s Senate vote. “There is a path forward, and it’s not through the tea party.”
Republicans and Democrats issue demands
Thursday's stopgap continuing resolution (CR) cuts spending $6 billion below fiscal year 2010 levels and averts a government shutdown on March 18. It passed the Senate 87 to 13. Nine Republicans, three Democrats, and one Independent voted in opposition. A previous, two-week bill cut spending another $4 billion.
“When signed into law, this measure will mean that we've cut $10 billion in just five weeks, which is a step in the right direction to begin to make Washington live within its means,” said House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia in a statement. "Now that we've put more time on the clock, I again implore the president and Senate Democrats to give us an offer that can get majority support in the Senate to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year that includes serious spending cuts."
The House and Senate are far apart on the scope of proposed cuts. On Feb. 19, the House passed a bill that cut $62 billion in discretionary spending for FY 2011, pushing spending back to FY 2008 levels. Senate Democrats proposed $6 billion in cuts over the same period. Both measures failed in up-or-down Senate votes last week. To avoid a government shutdown on April 9, the House and Senate must bridge that gap.