Centrist Senate Dems urge Boehner to avert a shutdown

A group of vulnerable Senate Democrats facing tough reelections next year have urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to reach a deal to keep the government funded beyond Friday. 

A group of 16 centrists led by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) warned that a shutdown could derail the national economic recovery. 

“Some members within your caucus continue to seek sustained confrontation and are interested in shutting down the government as a misguided sign that they are serious about debt reduction,” the lawmakers wrote Wednesday in a letter to Boehner. 

The group included several Democrats facing tough reelections next year: Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Robert Casey (Pa.).

The senators said a government shutdown now would serve as a “counterproductive attack on our economic recovery,” citing warnings by economists and business leaders.

“Knowing that a bipartisan deal is within reach to cut tens of billions of dollars from current funding levels, it would be irresponsible to shut down the government and punish our constituents solely to assert a political point,” the lawmakers wrote. 

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Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said for days that the two sides are at the doorstep of a deal and that only interference from the Tea Party would derail it. 

Vice President Joe Biden said last week that Democratic and Republican negotiators were working toward a common goal of $33 billion in spending cuts. 

But Boehner has downplayed talk of a deal. He said Monday that $33 billion is “not enough” and that “many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors.” 

President Obama summoned the leaders to the White House Tuesday to reenergize the talks. After meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Tuesday afternoon, Boehner’s spokesman said only “they agreed to continue working on a budget solution.”