White House warns spending talks are on track for another shutdown ‘crisis’

White House Budget Director Jack Lew on Friday warned that the negotiations on the 2012 omnibus spending bill are going poorly and could soon lead to a crisis that shuts down the government.

Appropriators are negotiating a nine-bill, $900 billion omnibus package, but the White House and Republicans are at odds over rider provisions attached to the spending bills, including ones related to abortion and the environment. Funding for the government runs out Dec. 16, leaving little time to resolve the disputes. 

Lew said President Obama is prepared to veto an omnibus with ideological riders in it. 

ADVERTISEMENT
“I don’t think it is in the interest of the country to have a crisis,” Lew warned. “There is absolutely no reason that this needs to go the path of crisis.”

The budget director said that, in addition to riders, the White House will not accept any attempt to revisit the top line $1.043 trillion spending cap that was set by the August debt deal, or a bill that provides less additional disaster aid than that agreement allows.

“There should be no miscalculation about the intensity of [the president’s] feelings on this,” Lew said.

“I haven’t see a clear movement away from the riders that we are going to need to see,” Lew told reporters in a briefing. “I don’t think the signal has been sent to drop the extreme provisions.”

He said it would be a “miscalculation” for Republicans to think that by dropping riders, they can get an agreement from Democrats to defund such Obama administration priorities as Wall Street reform and the healthcare law.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) denied that a crisis looms over funding the government.

“I think cooler heads will prevail and we’ll get this done,” he said when asked about Lew’s comments.

Lew would not say that each and every rider needs to be removed from the bill, and instead said that appropriators know which types of provisions must be removed. He cited family planning, women’s health, healthcare reform and mining in the Grand Canyon as examples of extreme provisions that the White House will not accept.

“The president is not going to be in a place where he can say everyone can go home for the holidays unless this gets done,” Lew said.

— Updated at 11:13 a.m.

More in Finance

Pelosi criticizes spending bill

Read more »