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Posted at 3:53 PM ET, 02/11/2011

Democrats, Republicans spar over possibility of government shutdown

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 5:00 p.m.

Several House Republicans on Friday pushed back against claims by Democrats that the GOP is open to shutting down the federal government as lawmakers scramble to reach a compromise on a spending resolution ahead of a March 4 deadline.

"Nobody's talking about a government shutdown; nobody wants a government shutdown; leadership does not want a government shutdown," said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who chairs a House Appropriations subcommittee on Interior and the Environment.

Simpson, who told reporters on Thursday that a government shutdown was within the realm of possibility, reiterated Friday that "anything's possible." But he emphasized to reporters that "without a doubt, leadership does not want a government shutdown, and I don't know anybody who's talking about that as the outcome that they desire."

Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, a conservative star of the new freshman class who was invited to give the keynote speech at this week's Conservative Political Action Conference, also dismissed the idea of a shutdown.

"The government's not going to shut down, and I think one of the things we've got to look at is, the president is the CEO of this corporation called the United States of America," West told reporters off the House floor Friday afternoon. "This is the people's House. This is for their voice."

South Carolina Republican Rep. Tim Scott, who is also a member of the leadership, declined to speculate on the possibility of a shutdown, noting that "we'll have to figure that out once we get closer to it."

"Hypotheticals are hard to answer, so I try my best not to answer them," Scott told reporters. "I will simply say, we will know more as this process moves forward."

Earlier Friday, Senate Democratic leaders argued on a conference call that House Republicans as well as former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R), a potential White House contender, are open to the possibility of a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that "it was disturbing to hear two more Republicans raise the possibility of a government shutdown in the past 24 hours." He pointed to Simpson's remarks and accused Pawlenty of "bragging" in his remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday about shutting down the government in Minnesota during his tenure as governor.

"We can't afford an extreme step like Pawlenty is suggesting," Reid said

In a post on National Review Online Friday afternoon, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) did not directly rule out a government shutdown but dismissed Democrats' claims as "akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater," charging that they "only serve as a distraction from the fact that Democrats aren't willing to work with us to cut spending and create jobs."

Jon Summers, a spokesperson for Reid, fired back in a statement that Cantor "can start an adult conversation right away by doing one thing: taking a government shutdown off the table." Summers also charged that "leading Republicans are still threatening to shut down the government if they don't get everything they want."

House Republicans on Friday are set to unveil the specifics of their spending proposal for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year, a plan that would cut $100 billion from President Obama's original 2011 budget request; Senate Democrats are opposed to the cuts, which they contend are too deep. Both chambers must agree to a funding resolution before March 4, the date the current resolution expires.

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 11, 2011; 3:53 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

The conversation that we aren't having here is why, given the fact that the tax rates in the US are not only lower than they have been in 4 decades and that they are less than any of any industrialized competitor, why the Repubs think that the *only* way to deal with deficits it to cut spending???

I mean, the tax breaks that Bush gave the rich 8 years ago haven't produced jobs... The rich have just considered it just another way for them to get richer... They haven't invested it in creating jobs... Why on earth then is it "off the table"???

I mean, 95% of Americans are being asked to make hard choices and to sacrifice while the upper 5% have never had it so good...

If the Repubs want Egypt right here in the good ol' US of A then please keep it up... Egypt ain't about "democracy"... It's about income inequality and equal opportunity...

Ya'll defending Boss Hog and the Repubs need to think about that...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 12, 2011 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Start taxing the rich and corporations like in every other civilized country instead of cutting everything for the poor (the rich will afford the services anyway thanks to the tax cuts). Unbelievable.
Republicans are just greedy ignorant evil people, as simple as that, history is full of them.....then they are surprised when a revolution like in Egypt happens and peasants are at at the gates of their mansions with pitchforks.....

Posted by: biglio | February 12, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

All they need to do to prevent a shutdown is pass yet another continuing resolution, which the Dems and the President will obviously go along with. So... if there's a shutdown, it'll happen only because the Republicans decided they'd refuse to vote for a CR unless they get what they want.

Posted by: A_Reader | February 12, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

" G.O.P. , we don't want to shut down the Government ." How can you shut down something that doesn't exist ? If the word Govern hasn't changed in this day of , " change for change sake , then I think it means , to lead . Or to look over and after . If we've had anyone looking over or out for us these past two years , they sure know how to hide it.

Posted by: puck-101 | February 12, 2011 6:50 AM | Report abuse

It is time for Government to lose non-essential programs and cut spending hard. If ordinary citizens and businesses can cut spending, so can government and I reject utterly the assertion that we will some some kind of catastrophe if we run the government budget back to ONLY 20% of GDP (thats about 3 TRILLION dollars folks).

Posted by: dhbarr | February 11, 2011 10:57 PM | Report abuse

At the rate things are going, I'm looking forward to a government shut-down. This will give the far right exactly what they want, small government. As for how long this last, that's the main question.

Posted by: Falling4Ever | February 11, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

"...the president is the CEO of this corporation called the United States of America," West told reporters off the House floor Friday afternoon.

========================

Um...What? Really? This is the teabag ida of the Constitution? The President is the CEO of the USA? Really???

Posted by: fmamstyle | February 11, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans have their wet dream come true and shut down the government, then what are they proposing to replace it with?

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | February 11, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

They remember what happened the last time they did that. It wasn't good for the GOP.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | February 11, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

A government shutdown would be a disaster, mostly for the Republican Party but for the nation as well. These guys are playing with fire -- shutting down Social Security, shutting down Medicare, these aren't acceptable scenarios for the country, but that's exactly where these guys are heading.

Everybody knows that if House Republicans hand their Teabagger base the keys to the House Castle, they will end up producing a spending bill that is DOA, forcing a shutdown. That's the game the teahadists want to play. So now is a real leadership moment for the House GOP. They know that the only kind of budget that the angry Teabagger whack-a-doodles in their party will support is the kind of budget that will force a government shutdown.

To avoid that, they'll need to ditch the delusiional Teahadists and work with House Democrats to pass a bipartisan budget that can pass the Senate and get President Obama's signature. Obviously, the chances of that happening are roughly zero. And that means in all likelihood House Republicans have settled on a path of government shutdown. And they know it.


.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 11, 2011 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Newly elected Rep. Alan West (R-FL) told reporters on Capitol Hill today that "the president is the CEO of this corporation called the United States of America" when responding to questions about a potential government shutdown.

Well, this demonstrates a clear problem and a bit of confusion on West's part. The Constitution set the federal government up the way it did to provide checks and balances and to assure that authority and responsibility reside in all three branches of government. West is acting like only President Obama is responsible, but really, all money matters for the federal government--per the US Constitution--begin with the House of Representatives, where Allen West and his Republican colleagues now run the show.

It is up to the Republicans--and not some overly simplified fairytale CEO characterization that they have created in their heads--to get things moving and see that they are done responsibly for all Americans. That is what we elected them to do so they'd better do it.

Posted by: dcrowell | February 11, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Newly elected Rep. Alan West (R-FL) told reporters on Capitol Hill today that "the president is the CEO of this corporation called the United States of America" when responding to questions about a potential government shutdown.

Well, this demonstrates a clear problem and a bit of confusion on West's part. The Constitution set the federal government up the way it did to provide checks and balances and to assure that authority and responsibility reside in all three branches of government. West is acting like only President Obama is responsible, but really, all money matters for the federal government--per the US Constitution--begin with the House of Representatives, where Allen West and his Republican colleagues now run the show.

It is up to the Republicans--and not some overly simplified fairytale CEO characterization that they have created in their heads--to get things moving and see that they are done responsibly for all Americans. That is what we elected them to do so they'd better do it.

Posted by: dcrowell | February 11, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

well, if small government is what the GOP is looking for...

A government shutdown isn't something that can really be taken off the table. It's the consequence of failing to meet the budget deadline. That's something that could very well happen.

Posted by: j762 | February 11, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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