White House open to short-term funding bill to prevent shutdown

The White House on Wednesday indicated it is open to accepting a short-term funding bill that keeps in place spending caps in order to avert a government shutdown. 

Press secretary Josh Earnest said a stopgap measure would not conflict with President Obama’s pledge to veto any budget resolution that locks in limits on defense and domestic spending, known as sequestration.

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“I think we would perceive an internal contradiction between the word ‘short term’ and ‘lock in,’ Earnest told reporters. 

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are locked in a stalemate over a budget agreement to keep the government open ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to pass spending bills.

Further complicating negotiations, a group of conservative lawmakers in the House of Representatives has pledged to oppose any spending bills that fund Planned Parenthood due to a brewing controversy over its fetal tissue program.

Obama and his Democratic allies have insisted they will not accept funding bills that keep sequestration spending caps in place. But Republicans are wary of raising spending levels, especially in the midst of the 2016 presidential race.

Some Republicans favor lifting caps on defense spending but not domestic programs, a solution the White House has called unacceptable. 

Negotiators in the Senate have floated a short-term measure that maintains current spending levels to buy more time for both parties to reach a deal.

Obama will appear before executives at a meeting of the Business Roundtable on Wednesday to warn Republicans of the economic consequences of a government shutdown.

“Republicans in Congress need to do the job the voters have asked them to do, and that is to pass a budget that reverses the harmful cuts known as the sequester and, of course, avoids another government shutdown,” Earnest said.