Back and forth escalates over state of budget negotiations

The war of words over the state of budget negotiations escalated Friday, as terse statements and rebuttals were lobbed back and forth by House Republican leaders and Democrats in the Senate and the administration. 

Both sides blamed the other for hindering progress toward a deal that would avert a government shutdown when the current funding resolution runs out on April 8.

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The skirmish started Friday morning when Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sounded an optimistic note by saying that there was "good news" coming from the negotiations. But hours later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) countered that negotiations on the spending bill for the rest of 2011 were not going well.

“Senator Schumer's comments this morning that the negotiations on a long term solution to fund the government for the remainder of the year are going well are completely farfetched,” he said.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) added his own statement on Friday night and said no progress had been made at all since the GOP majority in the House passed its budget plan, H.R. 1, which has little hope of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate. 

"At no point in the 34 days since the House acted have the Democrats who run the Senate and the White House put forward a credible, long-term plan to resolve their budget mess," Boehner's statement read.

Those reactions prompted Schumer to issue a statement of his own which said there had been progress toward a resolution, but it evaporated.

"After days of positive negotiations, with significant flexibility shown by the Speaker, the House Republican leadership is back to agonizing over whether to give in to right-wing demands that they abandon any compromise on their extreme cuts," Schumer's statement read. 

And a compromise is what will be needed for a spending bill to be signed into law by the president as the two sides have remained some $50 billion apart on proposed spending cuts. The House GOP's budget has no future without changes, according to a statement from Meg Reilly, a spokeswoman for Office of Management and Budget (OMB).



"The House plan would undermine our economic growth by cutting areas that are vital to our future, including education, research and development and investments in building the infrastructure we need. The House bill also raises extreme social policy issues that have nothing at all to do with reducing spending or reducing the deficit," she said. "The President said he would veto the bill if it got to him in this form."


Boehner and Schumer both put blame for the impasse, and for a potential government shutdown, on intra-party squabbling.

"If Democrats don’t have a plan, do they intend to shut down the government because they can't agree among themselves?" Boehner asked in his statement.

Schumer's statement said: "The Speaker knows that when it comes to avoiding a shutdown, his problem is with the Tea Party, not Democrats. Instead of lashing out at Democrats in a kneejerk way, we hope House Republicans will finally stand up to the Tea Party and resume the negotiations that had seemed so full of promise."

The message from the White House was to take the high road. OMB's Reilly said, "We need to work together to find a reasonable compromise for funding the rest of the year, so we can move on to the serious work of getting our fiscal house in order."

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