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Budget deal must come by the end of the week
Tuesday - 3/29/2011, 9:31am EDT
Senior Internet Editor
The specter of at least a partial government shutdown looms once again. Congress has returned to Washington with Democrats and Republicans as far apart on spending priorities as ever. Federal managers just want to know if they will be facing another continuing resolution or if there is any chance a budget will be finalized for 2011.
Jerry Bodlander, the Capitol Hill Correspondent for the Associated Press, says if anything will get done, it has to be by the end of this week.
As you know the government has money until April the 8th, and while that seems to be a week and a half away, because House Republicans put in effect this rule that any measure they're going to vote on has to be available for lawmakers to see 72 hours ahead of time, and because they have to act before the Senate does since it's a money bill, we're looking at a pretty short time frame. They probably have to strike a deal by the end of this week. The three days would then carry over to early next week. They could work on the measure on the House floor and then it would go to the Senate, and so there's not as much time as it would appear. And they're still pretty far apart and both sides appear to be digging in their heels to some degree.
Bodlander said this is a "delicate balancing act that everybody's involved in" including the President.
Clearly the administration does not support some of the cuts that have gone through the House and Democrats have made clear that they will not support them. Somewhere along the line, if a shutdown does appear imminent, one would have to assume that the President might jump in. Both sides have indicated they do not want to have another short term spending bill, and making things a little more involved is, even though they just came back from a week long break, you know we've got the Easter break coming up at the end of April. So they theoretically, even though they said they don't want to have another short term CR, theoretically you could probably get one in the time frame. But then everybody would be doing something they vowed they wouldn't do.
If there's no agreement by the end of this week, don't panic. Bodlander said it would be tight, but there is a little bit of wiggle room in terms of the timing.
One would assume that that if Republicans are going to stick to their three day posting, that you'd have to have something by next Monday. That, I think, would be about as tight as it could be, simply because then the House could vote on it Thursday and, you know, the Senate would then have to move pretty quickly to get something done, and let's face it, it is "the world's most deliberative body" so maybe you want to give them two days because there has to be an agreement on debate and that's never an easy thing to do. So it's really tough to come up with an exact timeframe for when they have to reach a deal, but there's no question the sooner the better.