By Molly K. Hooper and Erik Wasson - 03/30/11 12:50 AM EDT
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday ruled out another short-term measure to fund the government, raising pressure on both parties to reach a deal to avert a government shutdown after April 8.
“Yeah, I want to see a long-term CR here,” Cantor told reporters in response to a direct question about whether he was ruling out another stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government open.
Cantor suggested it is Democrats who have not been serious about reaching a deal, and repeated his call for more White House involvement.
“We need to see [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] and [Sen.] Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] get serious,” he said. “We need to see the president get involved.”
Later on Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) refused to rule out another stopgap measure, saying he would not put any options on the table or take any off.
But Republicans in the House expressed frustration last month at having to vote on a second short-term spending measure in a month, and with Democrats, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), vowing to oppose another stopgap, there is no guarantee GOP leaders can win a third vote on a short-term funding measure.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, Reid and other Democrats on Tuesday underlined their willingness to agree to $30 billion in spending cuts this year, which the White House continued to present as meeting the GOP halfway. They argued Republicans were walking away from a possible deal.
“We have demonstrated with Democrats the fact that we’ve already come halfway and indicated that we’re willing to do more,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
“If Republicans are truly interested in forging a bipartisan agreement that avoids a government shutdown, they should come back to the negotiating table and look at what’s in the proposal,” Senate Democratic spokesman Jon Summers said late in the day.
Cantor and Boehner, however, said Republicans aren’t close to striking a deal with the White House.
“There are a lot of numbers that have been discussed and thrown around. The fact is there is not an agreement on a number,” Boehner said.
Cantor also disputed reports of a deal, and said Democrats were battling for public opinion in suggesting an agreement was near.
“I’m telling you that the nature of progress you’ve been discussing with members on the other side of the Capitol [does] not reflect where I think that the negotiations are,” he said.
He called a statement he said Hoyer made earlier in the day, that a deal could be struck relatively soon, “farfetched,” and seized on remarks Schumer reportedly made during a press call in which the senator advised his colleagues to label Boehner’s position on additional cuts as “extreme.”
“Chuck Schumer did us a favor; he exposed their tactic,” Cantor said. “He’s basically instructing his members to deem any spending cut unreasonable — any spending cut.
So clearly they are not serious.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that the discussions were being threatened by comments like Schumer’s.
Reid said Democrats were willing to go “far more than halfway” to the Republican position, and suggested a new willingness to look at policy riders demanded by the GOP.
These provisions, which include proposals to defund the new healthcare law and Planned Parenthood, are seen as the thorniest aspect of negotiations between the White House and Republicans, given conservative demands that they be a part of a final deal.
Reid acknowledged “there aren’t many [policy riders] that excite me,” but said Democrats “have already” started to look at them.
At the same time, Reid has already said that the Planned Parenthood measure cannot be included in a final bill.
Boehner said a final deal would have to include some of the policy riders.
“Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” Boehner said. “It’s just not cutting spending — there are a number of limitations that passed the floor of the House.”
Using 2010 spending as the point of comparison, the Democrats are proposing $30 billion in total cuts, including the $10 billion already enacted in two short-term measures. This compares to a Republican demand for $61 billion in cuts.
Democrats over the last few days have suggested that a deal is in play — if Boehner and other GOP leaders can prevent Tea Party Republicans from a revolt.
The GOP faces enormous pressure from grassroots conservatives to win the full $61 billion in cuts that were included in a House-approved bill funding the government through Sept. 30.
Tea Party Patriots, who will hold a rally outside the Capitol on Thursday to press Republicans to keep that promise, are one of many Tea Party groups that have been critical of the short-term funding measures.
“Members of Congress have abandoned their service to the people by passing continuing resolutions instead of cutting the $100 billion they pledged,” Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Marth, national coordinators for the group, said in a Tuesday release.
Asked about the pressure, Cantor said that “any pressure stems from the notion that $60 billion versus $1.6 trillion seems relatively little. … Given the percentages at work there, that’s not even 5 percent.”
This post was initially published at 3:01 p.m. and most recently updated at 8:50 p.m.