Boehner: White House late to weigh in on government funding to avert shutdown
Updated: 12:40 p.m.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that if the White House had weighed in earlier on a short-term proposal to keep the government funded past Friday, it might have been possible for him to reach an agreement with House Republicans.
"If there had been a conversation about this ten days ago, or two days ago, we might have had something to talk about," Boehner told reporters after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. "The fact is that we were forced to move on our own. I think we're taking a responsible path forward to keep the government open and to meet our commitment to cut spending."
The White House indicated Monday that it would like to see a 30-day funding measure instead of the two-week plan that the House is set to vote on Tuesday afternoon. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met Monday evening to discuss the way forward on funding the government, a GOP aide said, but neither leader has given an indication of how the talk went.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) declined to comment Tuesday on whether the White House should have made its position known earlier.
"It's never too late to engage; I believe the administration is engaging," Hoyer said at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing. He added that he spoke with Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew last Thursday.
Hoyer also reiterated his opposition to a series of short-term measures to fund the government, saying that it's not possible to "run effectively an enterprise on 14-day increments."
"In my view, what we all ought to be working on very intensively over the next few days -- whether that's five days, ten days, fifteen days -- is providing for funding for the balance of the year, through Sept. 30," he said, calling a series of short-term measures "irrational, inefficient, demoralizing for the employees, and extraordinarily disruptive to the private sector."
Boehner on Tuesday declined to say whether he would accept a longer-term funding resolution even if it cuts spending at the same rate as the measure the House is currently considering.
"I know what the House is going to do today, and that is, we're going to cut $4 billion and keep the government open until March 18," he said. "I can't predict what the Senate will or won't do."
Asked again whether he would rule out supporting a longer-term measure, Boehner responded, "If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day'd be Christmas."
The gulf remains wide between House Republicans and Senate Democrats on a longer-term funding measure, meaning that even if both chambers pass a measure to avert a shutdown this Friday, they will still have far to go if they are to reach an agreement on funding the government past March 18.
Boehner defended the House's passage two weeks ago of a longer-term funding measure, arguing that the ball is now in the Senate's court.
"The House did its job," Boehner said. "We cut spending to the tune of $100 billion below the president's request. We sent it over there; now let's let the Senate do its job."
| March 1, 2011; 12:40 PM ET
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