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Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Boehner: White House late to weigh in on government funding to avert shutdown

By Felicia Sonmez

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."

By Felicia Sonmez  | March 1, 2011; 12:40 PM ET
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They just can't wait to shut down the government. They're like revelers counting down the clock to New Years.

Posted by: Tarkon | March 1, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Seems like although we have a verbal deal to pass a CR, there are still a few hurdles to clear, and no guarantee everyone will do as they are saying. Am I reading this wrong?

If the House freshmen buck Boehner (as they have repeatedly) and insist on 10B-20B in cuts to sign on to a CR, the Senate and the White House will balk.

Posted by: ennepe68 | March 1, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

After watching the peaceful, purposeful and mindful revolution of Tunisia, Egypt and very soon in Libya and many other middle-east countries by their youth and masses, I am of the opinion that we Americans also need an another more democratic revolution where we all citizen can have our says rather than few billionaires and their surrogates and puppets. Obama was elected by the majority of the poor and middle class Americans but soon he became a stooge of the hard core right wing goons who have already pocketed more than 780 billion dollar tax cuts from the coward Obama and now asking him to cut almost all the programs of poor and middle class Americans. Obama and his goons have no bones to ask them to place that 780 billion dollar on table but will surrender timidly looking for the prospects of 2012 election rather than the sufferings of the poor people. We need a revolution to change our Constitution to have one vote for each Americans and no special interest goons can enter any government building, no business or corporation or labor union can donate a single penny to the politicians. Hope, Americans will unite and start marching to their capitals and start voicing their demands otherwise we will have to plead to these Arabs masses to provide us moral help and courage to change our freedom and democracy.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | March 1, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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