Nancy Pelosi: 'I'd rather not speculate' on funding cuts
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to say Thursday whether House Democrats might support a stop-gap government funding resolution that cuts spending below current levels.
"I'd rather not speculate," Pelosi said when asked whether House Democrats would back such a measure. "We want to work together to keep the government open and get us a continuing resolution that takes us through the end of the year."
Pelosi made the comments after a news conference with Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Henry Cuellar (Texas) and Betty Sutton (Ohio) hailing the passage of legislation that would restore federal funding for local police officers and firefighters.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday morning rejected a short-term extension of the measure currently funding the federal government. The resolution expires on March 4, and the government could face a shutdown if lawmakers aren't able to agree on a funding compromise before then.
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did earlier Thursday, Pelosi accused Boehner of threatening to shut down the government.
"We've seen this happen before, and it is a failure," Pelosi said. "It's really a failure to say, 'We have taken the leadership of the Congress of the United States, and the first thing we're going to do is shut down the government to the detriment of our people, to our security and to our country's future.'"
Republicans countered that throughout the spending debate, Democrats have been the ones cheering on a government shutdown.
"Our goal is to cut spending - not to shut down the government," Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel said. "But Washington Democrats seem to be rooting for such a shutdown, hoping for to gain a partisan advantage."
Pelosi said that she, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had a "very good meeting" in the Oval Office Thursday afternoon with President Obama, Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
The top agenda items at the luncheon meeting were Obama's 2012 budget as well as the recommendations of the president's fiscal reform commission, Pelosi said. She said that the message fromthe meeting "was that there's no doubt in anybody's mind that Democrats are committed to reducing the deficit, but to do so in a way that grows our economy, creates jobs, strengthens the middle class and helps us win the future."
She also argued that making deep spending cuts would be detrimental to the still-fragile economy.
"We're coming back from the deep recession that President Bush took us to with their reckless policies, the 'So be it' doctrine," Pelosi said, a reference to Boehner's "so be it" remark earlier this week on federal workers potentially losing their jobs due to spending cuts. "And coming out of that, even the fiscal reform commission said, when we go down this path of cutting spending, we have to be cautious in this first year or else we can reverse some of the economic growth that we need to have to grow our way out of the deficit."
| February 17, 2011; 4:12 PM ET
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