By Molly K. Hooper - 04/10/11 05:24 PM EDT
Key GOP and Democratic Congressional lawmakers said on Sunday that the six-month government funding deal struck to avert a government shutdown on Friday would likely garner bipartisan support next week, but the officials declined to state how they would vote on the matter.
Bicameral, bipartisan lawmakers appearing on the Sunday morning political talk shows breathed a collective sigh of relief that the down-to-the-wire negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic President Barack Obama were able to avert a government shutdown late Friday.
“I want to see the language in the bill. I think John Boehner got a good deal, but it's probably not good enough for me to support it,” Pence said on “This Week.”
House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) wouldn’t commit to supporting the deal either,
“They're still sifting through the areas where they are going to make cuts. You can't find anybody today, actually, who knows exactly what cuts we're proposing until probably the end of the day today, maybe early next week. So I'm going to reserve judgment,” Van Hollen explained on “This Week,” adding, “I think that this will pass.”
Leading Democratic mouthpiece, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who was caught on a conference call days ago telling his colleagues to characterize the GOP position as “extreme,” said that the deal would garner bipartisan support.
Schumer told “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer that the final deal was a “fair compromise. Both sides gained. And I think it will get broad bipartisan support.”
Neither Schumer nor Van Hollen could explain where precisely the cuts were going to be made.
According to a broad outline of the agreement, the measure would cut $39.9 billion in spending from current levels, which would be the largest discretionary spending cut in history, according to GOP officials.
Still, House Republicans wanted at least $61 billion in cuts from current levels, as they passed in H.R. 1.
House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) said on CNN's "State of the Union" that, "while this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget," the cuts were not nearly enough.
"Relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error," he said. "In that case we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered."
Pence disputed the notion that the deal hinged on one of his top priorities, a policy rider to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Hill reported that a deal on that matter had been struck by late Thursday night, but Senate and House Democrats pounded Republicans all day Friday for holding up the overall deal on that issue — focused squarely on abortion.
“It's nonsense to say that Republicans were willing to shut down the government over this. Speaker John Boehner made it clear that the policy issue, including my amendment on abortion providers, had been negotiated,” Pence said.
Schumer noted that much of the money came from so-called mandatory spending, something that was not favored by Tea Party-backed lawmakers. That money would be a one-time cut for a year, as opposed to a multiple year termination of funding that would not be included when appropriators start writing the 2012 spending bills.
“More than half of the new cuts are from the so-called "CHIMPS," [changes in mandatory spending] which don't cut the seed corn — the things like teachers and Head Start and cancer research and helping kids go to college, which we thought would have been a huge mistake because those would have hurt our economy and hurt the middle class,” Schumer explained.
After Congress approves the long-term bill, likely on Wednesday and Thursday, lawmakers move on bigger battles, in particular over whether to lift the current debt ceiling, which is the amount of money the U.S. can legally borrow to pay obligations.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said on CBS that Republicans won’t agree to lifting that ceiling until the president and Democrats agree to major changes in the how the current budgeting process operates.
“You could have a two-year budget, for example, instead of one. I think that would help. We can put statutory caps on spending. We can have a balanced budget constitutional amendment that failed by one vote about a decade ago,” Sessions said.
“The president just can't waltz in and say we're going to have a debt crisis if you don't raise the debt limit, Congress, and we're not going to have any changes and I'm not going to support any changes. He's going to have to meet Congress halfway — really, the American people halfway.”
Schumer resurrected an idea floated by Senate Democrats recently that would raise taxes on big oil companies and companies that move their business overseas to avoid tax liability, stating that paying down the debt must “be fair and across the board."
Schumer and Van Hollen warned their GOP colleagues not to handle the impending battle over the debt ceiling at the last minute because it could cause massive economic repercussions, including a deep “recession.”
Schumer said, “Playing the same game they played on shutting the government down up to the last minute and using that as, sort of, leverage to get things they wanted, and, fortunately, we didn't go along with a lot of them. But doing that on the debt ceiling, a disaster, a formula of playing with fire that could actually have the credit markets stop taking U.S. debt and create a recession.”
Sessions responded in kind that the president must get involved sooner in that skirmish than Obama’s late entry into the government shutdown talks.
“The president is going to have to reach out early if he wants to get an early solution. He cannot just do nothing,” Sessions said.