Government shutdown would be failure of GOP leadership, says Pelosi

The top House Democrat is going after Republican leaders for threatening a government shutdown if GOP demands for spending cuts aren't met.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that instead of launching "ultimatums," Republicans should be focusing on "how to keep government open, not how we intend to shut it down."

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"So much is at stake," Pelosi told reporters. "Every category [of government] you can name will be affected by it.”

The House is currently debating a GOP proposal to cut federal funding by $61 billion through fiscal year 2011, but President Obama has threatened to veto the bill over the depth of those cuts.

With the current funding law slated to expire March 4, senior lawmakers are eyeing options to extend it temporarily while party leaders hash out a longer-term deal. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that Republicans won't accept an extension of government spending at current levels, insisting instead that unspecified cuts accompany even a short-term extension.

“I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels,” the Speaker told reporters at his weekly press conference. “When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips, we’re going to cut spending.”

Pelosi said Thursday that allowing such a shutdown so soon after taking control of the House would be "a failure" of leadership.

"It's a failure to say we've taken the leadership of the United States and the first thing we're going to do is shut down the government to the detriment of our people [and] to our security," she said.

The House is expected to vote on the Republicans' proposal before the weekend.