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Entries in Government Shutdown (72)

Sunday
Apr102011

Abortion at Issue in Debate Over Budget

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a fiery debate on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., insisted that the other side was to blame for the near-shutdown of the federal government and battled over the funding of Planned Parenthood.

"These guys took us to the brink not only to do something that won't create a job, but to impose their own sorta right-wing policies on the country," Van Hollen said. "We can disagree about a very controversial issue, and we do, but using this budget process to try and impose that position on the country and threaten to shut down the government is just wrong."

Pence hit back: "Speaker John Boehner made it clear that the policy issues, including my amendment on abortion providers had been negotiated."

"This administration and liberals in Congress were willing to shut the government down to continue to fund abortion providers in this country."

ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour injected. "But you know that federal funds don't do that," she said.

"In February of this year," Pence said, "the Pence Amendment passed on a bipartisan basis of 240 votes. It denied federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America."

Van Hollen, appearing a bit riled up, insisted, "the facts are not one penny of taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood or anybody else for abortion."

Pence tried to sidestep the question about how he'll vote on the budget compromise, saying, "What I was saying repeatedly, was that House Republicans needed to pick a fight. And I think John Boehner fought the good fight, I think he drove a hard bargain here. I want to see the details, but from what I know, it sounds like John Boehner got a good deal, probably not good enough for me to support it, but a good deal nonetheless."

Van Hollen also declined to say whether he would vote for the budget compromise, telling Amanpour he would wait until the details of the bill were finalized. But he said he did think the compromise would pass.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr102011

David Plouffe: Budget Cuts 'Draconian' and 'Historic'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senior Advisor to the President David Plouffe conceded Sunday that some of the cuts the White House agreed to in order to avoid a government shutdown were draconian.

"Some of the cuts were draconian,” Plouffe said in an interview with ABC’s This Week. “Because it's not just the number, it's what composes the number."

"There were some tough cuts in there…but in these fiscal times, everyone is going to have to make tough decisions,” he said. “So it was a historic deal for the American people."

Plouffe trumpeted the bipartisan cooperation that allowed the U.S. federal government to avoid being shut down, if only barely.

"On any issue," Plouffe said, "nothing's going to happen unless it has the support of members of both parties. We're not going to move forward together as a country unless we do it together, Republicans and Democrats, on behalf of all Americans."

He said it should "give us some confidence" that both sides of the aisle had passed the "first big test" of the divided government, with Democrats in control of the White House and Senate, and Republicans with a majority in the House of Representatives.

"Yes it came down to the finish line, but you couple that with what happened in December on nuclear weapons, on tax cuts for the American people and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' it should give us some confidence that when our leaders really put the American people first, they have the ability to work together," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

Government Shutdown Averted, But Bigger Fights on Horizon

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The government is up and running as usual Saturday thanks to an 11th hour deal struck Friday night by negotiators on Capitol Hill, but the intensity of the past week will be nothing compared to the coming battle over even larger spending issues.

As Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., said in an interview last night, the fight over whether or not to raise the debt limit “is going to be Armageddon.”

“We have to see reforms before the debt ceiling is raised … or we would be in danger of having to face this again in another year or two, which we cannot do” Hutchison said in an interview on CNN. “We cannot sustain a $14 trillion debt.”

Her Republican counterpart from Texas, Sen. John Cornyn, tweeted Saturday, “Now on to the main event: the debt limit. Huge leverage for systemic fiscal reform.”

So how did both sides reach the agreement that avoided closing down the federal government?

“In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement,” President Obama said against the backdrop of the Washington Monument Friday night. “Beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs -- investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research. We protected the investments we need to win the future.”

The agreement would cut about $38 billion from the 2010 budget baseline and $78.5 billion from President Obama's 2011 budget proposal, officials said. It also would keep intact funding to Planned Parenthood and resist several other Republican-proposed policy changes.

“At the end of the day,” President Obama said, “this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water. These are important issues that deserve discussion -- just not during a debate about our budget.”

The House and Senate passed temporary resolutions to keep the government funded after midnight, when funding was scheduled to run out. A full agreement will need to be drafted and passed by Congress next week. The short-term “bridge,” as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, described it last night, includes the first $2 billion in cuts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

Obama Takes Victory Lap at Lincoln Memorial

Pool Photo(WASHINGTON) -- Beaming with enthusiasm, President Obama surprised tourists with an appearance at the Lincoln Memorial Saturday afternoon. He was there to make the point that places such as the Lincoln Memorial are open because of a bipartisan budget agreement reached on Friday.

"Because Congress was able to settle its differences – that's why this place is open today and everybody’s able to enjoy their visit," Obama told visitors.

"And that's the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward ‘cause this is what America is all about - everybody from different places enjoying those things that bind us together," he added.

The president got out of his motorcade and rushed up the steps at the memorial, where he took a few minutes to shake hands and talk with visitors.

Obama made the trip not long after signing a continuing resolution that will keep the government open until Congress votes on Friday night’s last minute deal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

Rep. Paul Ryan: Budget Deal a Start, More Work to Do

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., acknowledged that the 2011 budget agreement reached by Democrats and Republicans on Friday was a good first step toward improving America’s future, but he said that there’s still more to do to get Americans back to work.

“Uncertainty is keeping job creators from hiring as fast as they should be,” Ryan said in this week’s Republican address. “Businesses know that all this borrowing and spending today means higher taxes and lower incomes for their customers down the road.”

After long and hard-fought negotiations, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were able to strike a deal at the last minute, avoiding what would have been the government's 18th shutdown.

Congressional leaders agreed on a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the government functioning through Thursday while details of a long-term deal are ironed out.

In a joint statement, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the agreement would cut $78.5 billion below President Obama's 2011 budget proposal. The short-term bridge, party leaders said, will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.

“Republicans made a pledge that we would work to change this if given the opportunity to lead,” Ryan said, referring to the president’s spending proposal. “Since January we've been urging President Obama to listen to the people and work with us to reduce spending.”

In recent weeks, congressional leaders failed to agree on what cuts ought to be made to the federal budget, like whether or not to eliminate $363 million in federal funding to women's health care centers, including Planned Parenthood.

Some of the attention now turns to the 2012 budget. Rep. Ryan this week proposed what he called a “Path to Prosperity,” a Republican spending plan that he says “is more than just a budget.”

“This budget is a jobs budget,” Ryan said in the GOP address. “It sends signals to investors, entrepreneurs and job creators that a brighter future is still possible – a future in which America is still an engine of growth that leads the world.”

The Republican proposal would cut the budget deficit by roughly $5 trillion over the next 10 years, completely overturn the new health care law and aim to reform Medicaid and Medicare.

Alice Rivlin, a former White House budget director in President Clinton's administration who worked with Ryan on a Medicare plan, says she doesn't support Ryan's plan in its current form.

"The basic problem with the Ryan plan is that it's a spending cut only plan. It has no new revenues," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

President Obama Commends Congressional Leaders on Budget Deal

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama lauded congressional leaders for reaching a budget deal. 

"It means small businesses can get the loans they need, our families can get the mortgages they applied for, folks can visit our national museums and parks and hundreds of thousands of Americans will get their paychecks on time," he said.

Obama commended Congress for making an agreement that not only keeps the government operating, but protects investments.

"Beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect the investments that will help Americans compete for new jobs, investments in our kids' educations, student loans and clean energy and life saving medical research," said Obama.

He said such an agreement to invest in the country's future while making the largest annual spending cut in recent history, was an agreement that required compromise. He commended lawmakers for not letting political and social issues keep them from coming to an agreement. Provisions for services like Planned Parenthood, for example, was one of the topics that hindered Congress from coming to a final budget sooner.

The president said he agreed to make some cuts that he would not have typically endorsed, given "better circumstances." He referred to certain infrastructure projects that will be delayed and federal programs that may be cut.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

House Passes Short-Term Deal, Extends Gov't Funding Through Thursday

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House voted early Saturday morning to approve a short-term bridge and avoid a government shutdown. Although the vote was after midnight, the legislation was designed to retroactively fund the 40-minute lapse in funding.

The vote was approved by a bipartisan count of 348-70. Twenty-eight Republicans and 42 Democrats voted against the bill; fifteen members missed the vote.

When he announced the compromise late Friday evening, House Speaker John Boehner said he was pleased that he was able to come to an agreement with Sen. Harry Reid and the White House on a deal “that will in fact cut spending and will keep our government open.”

“As you all know, this has been a long discussion and a long fight, but we fought to keep government spending down because it really will in fact help create a better environment for job creators in our country,” Boehner said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

It's a Deal: Congressional Leaders Strike Last Minute Deal, Avoid Shutdown

Antonio M. Rosario/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After long and hard-fought negotiations on the budget of the 2011 fiscal year, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were able to strike a deal at the last minute, avoiding what would have been the government's 18th shutdown at midnight.

At a late night meeting Friday with his Republican members, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called it "the best deal we could get."

In a joint statement, Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the president."

Boehner and Reid say this agreement will cut $78.5 billion below President Obama's 2011 budget proposal.

Democrats and Republicans alike had been prepared to blame the other in the event of a so-called "spending gap" that would have caused 800,000 federal workers to be furloughed in addition to the potentially damaging economic effects of a shutdown.

In recent weeks, congressional leaders had failed to agree on what cuts ought to be made to the federal budget, like whether or not to eliminate $363 million in federal funding to women's health care centers including Planned Parenthood. 

As of Thursday night, President Obama told Speaker John Boehner that he could agree to more spending cuts if programs he supports -- such as Head Start -- were spared, and more cuts were made in the Pentagon Budget and "mandatory" spending programs required by law.

Boehner agreed in theory.  They both agreed that their teams would find a number between $35 billion and $39 billion.  The size of the cut would come down to the composition of what was being cut.  At that time, Boehner could not commit to ending the demand that Planned Parenthood would be de-funded.

By the end of Friday night's negotiations, Congressional leaders were able to agree upon a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the government functioning through next week while details of a long-term deal are ironed out.  The short-term bridge, both Boehner and Reid say, will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.

Sources say that the current agreement does not eliminate funding for the controversial Planned Parenthood issue and that Republicans have agreed to put it aside, at least for now.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Government Shutdown 2011: If It Happens, It Would Be 18th Shutdown Ever

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- If the government shuts down at midnight Friday, it would be the 18th time it will have happened -- ever.

Since 1976, the year that the new Congressional budgeting process took effect, there have been 17 government shutdowns. In official terms, they are actually called “spending gaps.”

According to a Congressional Research Service report issued in 2010, during the 34-year period from fiscal year 1977 to 2010, the 17 shutdowns have ranged in "duration from one day to 21 full days."

"About half of these funding gaps were brief (i.e., three days or less in duration)," according to the report. "Of these, most occurred over a weekend and the disruption in federal operations was minimal.”

Between 1977 and 1992, 15 shutdowns -- or “funding gaps” -- occurred, compared to just two between 1993 and 2010. Those, of course, were the 1995/1996 standoffs between President Clinton and Congressional Republicans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Apr082011

The Shutdown as an Opening Act; Is the Worst Yet To Come?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The furor over a $5 billion gap between Republican and Democrats on cuts to government spending for a fiscal year that’s half over is not a big deal -- relative to what’s coming.
 
In the next month, Congress will have to pass an increase to the Federal Debt Limit -- which currently stands at $14.294 trillion -- or risk defaulting on interest payments on the nation’s debt.
 
Imagine the Congressional wrangling over a vote which would expand the Federal government’s borrowing authority by an additional trillion dollars (the nine most recent increases since 1997 have averaged $977 billion in new borrowing authority).
 
The Treasury says that Congress must act by May 16 to insure the continued functioning of the government -- with some financial high-wire acts, that could be pushed a few weeks into June.
 
Without it, administration officials and private sector economists say, the U.S. government and private sector economy would face a catastrophe. Imagine the world’s biggest debtor -- Uncle Sam -- missing a few payments on his credit cards. Is anyone going to want to lend him money at a reasonable rate moving forward? Probably not.
 
“If Congress failed to increase the debt limit, a broad range of government payments would have to be stopped, limited or delayed, including military salaries and retirement benefits, Social Security and Medicare payments, interest on the debt, unemployment benefits and tax refunds,” writes Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in an April 4 letter to Congress.
 
“This would cause severe hardship to American families and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests. In addition, defaulting on legal obligations of the United States would lead to sharply higher interest rates and borrowing costs, declining home values and reduced retirement savings for Americans. Default would cause a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover.”
 
Enjoy the opening act -- private sector economists say the current shutdown would shave 0.2% of GDP a week, which will be quickly restored once a deal is made.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio