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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Senate vote averting federal shutdown for now; Obama calls for long-term budget negotiations

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated, 1:15 p.m.

The Senate on Wednesday averted a federal government shutdown for at least two weeks, approving a stopgap measure that would keep it funded through March 18 and sending the bill on to President Obama for his signature.

The bill, which would cut $4 billion in spending by targeting programs that Obama has already marked for elimination, passed on a 91-to-9 vote, one day after it was approved by the House.

Obama is expected to sign the bill. If he did not sign by Friday, the federal government would be forced to shut down.

The agreement on the two-week plan buys Congress time while it works on a measure to fund the government for the remaining seven months of this fiscal year -- likely to be a harder task.

Obama urged the two parties to come together to reach a permanent solution to the budget impasse, even as he said he was "pleased" with a two-week agreement.

He said he would enlist Vice President Biden, White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Budget Director Jacob Lew to meet with congressional leaders to hash out a long-term agreement.

"I'm pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together and passed a plan that will cut spending and keep the government running for the next two weeks. But we cannot keep doing business this way," Obama said in a statement released after the Senate passed the continuing resolution. "Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy."

The House passed a measure last month that would reduce spending during that seven-month period by $61 billion. The Democrats who have a Senate majority say those cuts are too deep and would hurt both the economy and needed programs. The president has said he would veto that bill.

Republican leaders on Wednesday declined to say whether they would join the White House-led budget talks. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a Capitol news conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that Senate Democrats must now either take up the House-passed bill or propose their own plan.

"Passing the short-term bill gives Senate Democrats two more weeks to either consider [the House-passed long-term bill] or outline their own plan for how we move ahead," Boehner said. "Americans have the right to know where Senate Democrats plan to cut spending to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year is. And so, we're waiting for them, and hopefully we'll see something from them soon."

"We just heard about this suggestion of the people who are supposed to be invited to a discussion on the way in here, so we'll take a look at what they have to say," McConnell said. "But obviously if I were you, I would be asking Senate Democrats how they feel about commencing such a discussion."

According to Don Stewart, McConnell's deputy chief of staff, the White House has made no formal invitation yet to congressional leaders beyond the statement that was circulated to reporters Wednesday afternoon. Stewart added that Republican leaders are "happy to look at whatever they propose" but emphasized that Senate Democrats have yet to make a proposal of their own.

Much distance remains between Senate Democrats and House Republicans on a longer-term measure, a factor Democratic leaders acknowledged Wednesday.

"We know that the final outcome will lie somewhere in between" the spending level proposed by Senate Democrats and the $61 billion in cuts over seven months favored by House Republicans, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a Capitol news conference with Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

In addition, the House-passed bill contains more than 60 amendments, many of which are strongly opposed by Senate Democrats, such as cuts to federal funding of Planned Parenthood and funding of public broadcasting.

Reid indicated Wednesday that Senate Democrats will work to oppose the inclusion of those riders in a long-term spending measure.

"They're going to go away," Reid said of the riders on the House-passed bill. "Let them bring these riders they have in individual pieces of legislation. They can pass these pretty easy in the House; send them over here."

Durbin told reporters after the vote that he was so personally opposed to some of the cuts that he planned to filibuster them if they reached the Senate, although he did elaborate on which specific cuts he would try to block.

"I will tell you something. It's only going to speak personally, not for the caucus: some of the cuts that they have put in this budget I will never vote for; I will filibuster," Durbin said.
"I just think they're an outrage, some of the things that they're doing with education and in research and science, I just think are awful. I mean, they literally took a hacksaw for brain surgery, as far as I'm concerned. And it was a blunt instrument and a blunt result."

Among the nine "no" votes on the two-week plan Wednesday were five Republicans -- Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim Risch (Idaho) and Mike Crapo (Idaho) -- three Democrats -- Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Carl Levin (Mich.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) -- and one independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

Some voting against the measure criticized it for not making deep enough cuts. Lee, a freshman and founding member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, said in a statement ahead of Wednesday's vote that he opposed the two-week plan, which was put forth by House Republicans late last week, calling it "a disappointing failure on the part of both parties to seriously address the economic meltdown we face from our massive deficit and growing national debt."

Some Democrats, meanwhile, had expressed reservations about the plan, arguing that it would make cuts to education and other programs without making investments to balance them out.

Staff writers Lori Montgomery and Perry Bacon Jr. also contributed to this report.

By Felicia Sonmez  | March 2, 2011; 1:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

This so called shutdown is only a media interest.
I hope they shut it down for a month or so. Then the Senate democrats can't screw us any more than they have.

Posted by: LarryG62 | March 2, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

@LarryG62 - Yup, no need for a federal government. In fact, let's just abolish all government and go back to anarchy. Police and military are overrated anyways. Fun on a bun!

Posted by: JTF- | March 2, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Establishing shut-down show-downs as a regular option on the legislative agenda.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 2, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

And the war on women rolls on.

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/03/01/video-budget

Posted by: GordonCash | March 2, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

What programs are among the $4 billion cut?

Posted by: lcwilson | March 2, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

A $4 Billion cut in two weeks is a good start, but much more need to come out of Obama's pork-laden budget. It is good to see that the Democrats in the house and Senate are embracing the GOP budget cut plan.

Posted by: Realist201 | March 2, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

This only postpones the inevidable!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | March 2, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

This so called shutdown is only a media interest.
I hope they shut it down for a month or so. Then the Senate democrats can't screw us any more than they have.
Posted by: LarryG62 | March 2, 2011 11:46 AM
___________________________________________
Only a media interest? No negative affects? Tell that to the elderly who whould not receive Social Security checks. Tell that to the military personnel, including those fighting for our country in foreign wars, who would not receive paychecks. And here I thought that WaPo readers were a fairly informed group of people.

Posted by: Lefty_ | March 2, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Now the dems are in a hurry to negotiate with the Republicans?

They should be given a dose of their own nasty medicine . The GOP should give them the same measure of respect and inclusiveness they received over the last 2 years. None at all...

Posted by: Straightline | March 2, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Now that Congressional Democrats and the administration have recognized the need for spending cuts - and agreed with our math on the level of the cuts - I am hopeful that [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] will join us on a long-term measure that contains serious spending reductions, or offer a plan of his own," Cantor said. "We need to act responsibly and put together a measure that will fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year instead of short-term band-aids."


What a LOAD of BS. The cuts that were approved were cuts that Obama wanted, but leave it to the "adults in the room" to act like children and take responsibility for doing what they were told to do. The GOP didn't have the nads to repeat the same mistake that they made under Clinton.

It's not too late though....this stopgap only lasts for 2 weeks. The GOP better get it together and send something that the President will sign and STOP wasting our time and our tax dollars.

WHERE ARE THE JOBS YOU PROMISED GOP????

Posted by: massmedia77 | March 2, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why people have such a short memory. Republicans threw USA economy right through the toilette two years ago. Now they want to destroy the little recovery USA has gained through a policy that maybe with shortcomings it was better than the alternative... USA Bankruptcy!. REPUBLICANS AND NEOCONS DO NOT CARE ABOUT AMERICANS. THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT THEIR PROFITS. THIS INNER CIRCLE OF AMERICAN WEALTH IS FUELED BY LARGE CORPORATIONS ANGER FOR CASH DESPITE BLOODSHEDS, HUNGER AND POVERTY WITHIN AMERICAN TERRITORY!! shame on them!!! GO OBAMA... GO! GO! GO!

Posted by: rtatisma | March 2, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

lets see all politicians cut their own pay and bennefits , to that of minimum wage and private sector insurances. before they pretend to give a sh*t about this country

Posted by: sinnersunited | March 2, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party and their co-opted cowards in Republican Party are not going to be happy until we are back in the 19th century while the rest of the world goes forward.

Posted by: roscym1 | March 2, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh phew! I was worried the children and their leader would throw another tantrum. I guess they are just putting it off.

It's time for serious budget cuts. You can thank Obama for that! He's the one who spent so flipping much money in just over 2 years.

I'm fairly certain though that the cuts will be minimal, there will be the threat of government shut down on a regular basis to further complicate getting the budget cuts approved, and in the end Obama will say he wanted more cuts but the Dems and Reps just wouldn't work together.

Posted by: hebe1 | March 2, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Why are people not rioting in the streets in response to Congress's inability to in an adult manner manage the nation's finances? Why are people not rioting in the streets because enormously wealthy bankers (banker = felon guilty of multiple counts of fraud) have NOT been stripped of their property and jammed in prison? Why are people not rioting in the streets because national treasure and military personnel were expended to rid the world of fictional weapons in Iraq? Fred Phelps can picket military funerals. That's his right. But watching the money I earn go to pay taxes on ineffective, wasteful, and duplicative government programs is painful. Congress is perfectly able to create government programs out of thin air and then leave it to political appointees to steer lesser mortals in directions that make no sense and cost a lot. Congress is unable to figure out what it wants government to do. Congress knows it wants citizens to pay less in taxes (especially wealthy Americans), it wants citizens to do their patriotic duty and march off to war when called, it wants citizens to get good educations from inferior and low paid teachers in crumbling school buildings, it wants to pay oil companies to search for product to pump out of the ground as if such incentives were required, it will pay "farmers" compensation for crop failure when said "farmer" didn't plant a crop, it will medically treat poor people after years of neglect makes them sick enough to warrant admission to a hospital. Etc. Etc.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | March 2, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Once again, the Republicans have proven that blackmail works. Sadly, they'll prove it again in two weeks.

Posted by: seldoc1 | March 2, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

If you read Matt Tiabi's article in the latest Rolling Stone you'll see why the bankers aren't in jail. They have bought and paid for Congress. Both parties. One Congressional staffer said the way to end the BS once in for all, so that Republican and Democratic taxpayers would never be on the hook again, is to send someone like Lloyd Blankfein to a Federal, POUND ME IN THE A@@ prison for six months.

But alas, the true culprits get away with financial rape, murder and plunder, the rich keep getting richer, and poor, working poor and middle class are made to pick up the tab. And as long as the campaign cash keeps pouring in, the Democrats and Republican politicians sing Kumbayah.

Long live the new American Oligocracy!!

Posted by: Ve1ostrummer | March 2, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"@LarryG62 - Yup, no need for a federal government. In fact, let's just abolish all government and go back to anarchy. Police and military are overrated anyways. Fun on a bun!"

Last time I checked Larry, the vast majority of "police" as you put it are not Federal...

Posted by: kbalderson | March 2, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) hailed the Senate stopgap vote and urged lawmakers to work toward a longer-term funding measure.

"Now that Congressional Democrats and the administration have recognized the need for spending cuts - and agreed with our math on the level of the cuts...."
=========================================
Cantor is a riot!

It appears more like the Teapublicans recognized and agreed with the President's proposed $4 billion cut in spending!

But he is so quick to take the credit!

This necessitates paraphrasing one of the Aesop's parable about the dog walking under a cart to shelter itself from the hot sun, and then after a while it starts thinking that it is the one pulling the cart!

Posted by: kishorgala | March 2, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I guess they can keep doing this every two weeks until the Federal government is responsible for little else besides printing currency and starting wars.

Posted by: forgetthis | March 2, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The "tea potty" crumbled! Their movement was nothing more than a sham-wow!

All talk, mo money and no action!

The hucksters are back in town! Washington D.C. that is.

Wearing those "R" tea(tee) shirts.

Hey Republicans!

Where's the job???!!!

Hey Boehner!

Where's the jobs???!!!

Hey tea potty!!!

Where's the job???!!!

Posted by: rbraun2000 | March 2, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

$4 billion??? way to go DC!!! YEAH!!! I mean wow ... cutting 00.875% of the federal budget ... oh you guys are miracle workers ...

puh-leeze!

Posted by: vmidurk | March 2, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

You can't keep paying off credit card bills with more credit cards. Eventually it will all catch up with you. The only thing to do is to just let time pass and see what will happen to this country. You reap what you sow. The best thing to do is keep your life simple. I have no bills except rent, food, insurance and gas. I live in Hawaii check to check. Making only $36,000 year. I am 24 years old and I have seen that government has made it hard to enjoy life. I think our Government is a big failure and has destroyed Americas Future for the next generation.

Posted by: seanncn | March 2, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, a little off today ... say govt. budget is $3.5 trillion (around there?)

and they cut 00.11% ..... NICE! Glad they're taking big strides here ...

Posted by: vmidurk | March 2, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

It's all the democrats. It's their fault. They R DUMB. No, it's not! It's the republican's fault. They R dumb. Etc, etc - BS reason here with dash of emotional. Next comment same as last; add more volatile emotional BS. Occasional passive defense comment after every third whiny comment of the offended. Get off the web people and beat your kids. END.

Posted by: PolifauxMatrix | March 2, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

It's all the democrats. It's their fault. They R DUMB. No, it's not! It's the republican's fault. They R dumb. Etc, etc - BS reason here with dash of emotional. Next comment same as last; add more volatile emotional BS. Occasional passive defense comment after every third whiny comment of the offended. Get off the web, people and beat your kids. END.

Posted by: PolifauxMatrix | March 2, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

You can't keep paying off credit card bills with more credit cards. Eventually it will all catch up with you. The only thing to do is to just let time pass and see what will happen to this country. You reap what you sow. The best thing to do is keep your life simple. I have no bills except rent, food, insurance and gas. I live in Hawaii check to check. Making only $36,000 year. I am 24 years old and I have seen that government has made it hard to enjoy life. I think our Government is a big failure and has destroyed Americas Future for the next generation.

Posted by: seanncn | March 2, 2011 1:11 PM
======================================
Ah, the Bad Government. Do you realize you wouldn't be living in Hawaii if it weren't for the Government?

And you are correct that you can't pay credit cards with credit cards forever. You need to have source of income at some point to pay off the cards. Perhaps the Government should look at increasing its income, like void the tax breaks they passed around last Christmas.

Posted by: kishorgala | March 2, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse


One can compromise on policy or procedure, but one cannot compromise on Principle.

I forget who I quoted from.

Nevertheless, one extension is too many. The GOP Must stick to its guns or the TEA party will throw the bums out like they did to the ignorant libs who disrespect the Constitution that protects their privilege of dissent.

Make the incompetent party that thought it was more important to ram ObamaCare down the throats of the US [instead of doing its job to pass a budget] face the music ... and the electorate that will transfer majority in the Senate and the White House in 2012.

... some of those GOP legislators who compromise may also join the unemployment lines.

We need Term Limits and a REPEAL of the 17th Amendment.

RESTORE HONOR and INTEGRITY to Our Congress, and RESTORE Our Nation as a democratic REPUBLIC ... [ not a domocracy ].

Posted by: esquire2 | March 2, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

While I agree we need to cut the budget deficit in the long-term, in the immediate future it is important to remember that a large reduction in government spending means a large reduction in government jobs, which in turn means even more unemployment.

Is that something our economy and the American people need at this point with the unemployment rate already at 9%?

Posted by: ppolicy127 | March 2, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I hope you all realize that Congress is made up of 50% millionaires...they will continue to get paid after they retire and they will continue to get medical after they leave office. So do you really think that what they are doing is governing "For and By the People"...nope -- it is for and by the lobbyists the ones that are keeping them in power -- and the Corporations that are filling their coffers. It's an "Inside Job". They ALL keep throwing out words like "Constitution" and "Good American"...do you think they really care when it gets down to it? Nope...all that counts is what the lobbyists do and what their coffers reflect...that's the bottom line! They will cut what they can...the poor just get poorer, with less and less...and the rich get richer. The top 1% control 90%...and nobody...but nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with that! It is all just HOT AIR. And that's America...and we are quickly becoming a third rate nation! But the white guys at the top are just fine! P.S. I'm white...I'm just embarassed.

Posted by: lwalker4 | March 2, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

What B/S LarryG62 -Straightline -& as for hebe1 d/a---d comments -well you're clearly as deluded as Gadhafi!!!!Which of course is normal if you're a Rupert Murdoch clone/Faux News freak --as you sound! Where were you for 8 years of gross greed, excessive warmongering & bungling state-destroying misrule all sanctioned & self-righteously operated by the self-serving party of ludicrous twits now posing as the G.O.P.

Posted by: neilo1 | March 3, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

no answer? then I'll supply my own-- --you were obviously on another planet--& still are --the rest of us will have to continue to pick up the pieces of what little respect the GOP left this country & administration to operate with--and so it goes!!!!

Posted by: neilo1 | March 3, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

no answer? then I'll supply my own-- --you were obviously on another planet--& still are --the rest of us will have to continue to pick up the pieces of what little respect the GOP left this country & administration to operate with--and so it goes!!!!

Posted by: neilo1 | March 3, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

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