Obama to lawmakers: Get it done

April 5, 2011 at 4:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday rejected a temporary spending bill to stave off a government shutdown, saying a full budget deal is too close.

Following a White House meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the heads of the House and Senate appropriations committees, Obama told reporters said continuing resolutions are no "way to run a government."

"I can't have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets," Obama said. "I can't have the Defense Department, I can't have the State Department, I can't have our various agencies on food safety and making sure our water is clean and making sure that our airports are functioning, I can't have them making decisions based on two-week-at-a-time budgets."

The federal government's current spending authority runs out Friday and for the House to vote on a measure in time, a bill would need to be posted by Tuesday night.

Reid and Boehner were scheduled to meet again late Tuesday to resolve the issues but Obama said if that doesn't get done, he wants the same four people back at the White House Wednesday.

"If over the next 24 to 48 hours a deal is done and we just can't get the paperwork through Congress quick enough and they want to do a clean extension for two or three days in order to go ahead and complete a deal, then that's something that we could support. But what we're not going to do is to once again put off something that should have gotten done several months ago," Obama said.

The president noted he has agreed to cut $73 billion in discretionary spending cuts, matching "the number the speaker originally sought."

"The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown," Obama said.

Obama noted there are only six months remaining on the 2011 budget and the proposed cuts are "historic" in size.

"What we can't do is have a 'my way or the highway' approach to this problem … because if we start applying that approach, where I've got to get 110 percent of everything I want or else I'm going to shut down the government, we're not going to get anything done this year. And the American people are going to be the ones that suffer," Obama said.

Boehner's office issued a readout saying the speaker had told Obama House Republicans refuse to "choose between two options that are bad for the country (inadequate spending cuts or a government shutdown)" and would prefer another continuing resolution "that funds our troops through September while cutting an additional $12 billion in spending and keeps the government running for another week."

The resolution was unveiled late Monday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president is still optimistic a deal can be worked out by the end of the week.

"There has been an agreement to work off of the $73 billion figure, which, again, no matter how you slice it, represents more than halfway towards the Republican position represented by the House of Representatives bill that passed. And the appropriators have been working hard to reach an agreement around that number," Carney told the daily press briefing.

He said though Republicans would prefer "deep cuts in education, medical research (and) community healthcare centers," the White House would target such things as "earmarks for transportation projects, pork-barrel projects that remain in the proposal, and Pentagon spending, military spending that the Pentagon doesn't want and says it doesn't need. We think those choices are what -- those are the choices that are on the table. And we believe that reasonable."

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