Republicans Pass Temporary Budget Bill Despite Obama's Veto Threat

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Defiant House Republicans Thursday passed a temporary budget measure that would ensure the troops are paid through September and keep the government running for another week, hours after President Obama threatened to veto it.

The bill, however, won't resolve the bitter standoff between Democrats and Republicans and, in fact, it could make even tougher negotiations on funding the government beyond midnight Friday into Saturday.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., met with Obama at the White House Thursday for the third time this week.

The leaders said the meeting was productive and expressed optimism that they could find middle ground, but no deal was struck, putting the government one step closer to a shutdown that now is looking unavoidable.

A government shutdown would have wide effects, officials say -- including delaying many tax refunds and delaying pay for military personnel.

Boehner urged the president to sign the temporary extension. Obama said earlier this week he would not vote for the measure, which includes $12 billion in spending cuts, unless there were hints of a progress in negotiations on a final bill.

"This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of fiscal year 2011 and avert a disruptive federal government shutdown that would put the nation's economic recovery in jeopardy," the White House said in a statement.

Democrats charged that the bill is merely a political cover.

"This is a very cynical ploy to use our troops to try to impose the Republican agenda through the budget process," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Boehner shot back at the president and Democrats.

"Neither the president nor Senate Democrats have identified a single policy provision they find objectionable in the bill," he said in a statement. "The president and Democratic leaders have all committed to working with Republicans to cut spending. A bill that falls short of that commitment cannot pass the House."

One of the key negotiators in budget talks predicted Thursday that the government is headed for a shutdown and expressed little optimism that a deal would be reached in time to avoid a paralyzing stalemate.

"The numbers are basically there," Reid said Thursday. "But I am not as nearly as optimistic -- and that's an understatement -- as I was 11 hours ago. The numbers are extremely close."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senator Pledges to Give Up Salary During Shutdown

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic Senator Joe Manchin pledged Thursday to return his salary to the Treasury if the government shuts down this week -- and he wants his fellow members of Congress, the president, and the vice president to follow suit. 

“The bottom line is this: I can’t imagine that the president, vice president or any member of Congress -- Republican or Democrat --thinks they should get paid when the government has shut down,” Manchin wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday. “Some in Washington will deride this as an empty gesture. To those naysayers, I say that the American people expect more of us. They expect us to lead by example and share their pain until a budget resolution is reached that reflects our values and priorities as a country.”

Republicans aren’t too impressed. The National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Manchin -- who is up for re-election next year -- of “pure political posturing.”

“This is nothing short of pure political posturing by multi-millionaire Joe Manchin to cover up for the fact that he and his fellow Washington Democrats have failed to do their jobs,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Poll: Trump Catapults Into Second Place In 2012 GOP Field

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new poll puts real estate mogul Donald Trump in second place in the GOP presidential field, just behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and tied with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Among Republican primary voters, Romney leads with 21 percent, followed by Trump and Huckabee, who each garnered 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stood at 11 percent and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin got 10 percent.

So, could Trump really be the GOP nominee?

The results say as much about the rest of the field as they do about Trump. About half of the field is basically unknown to all but the most highly engaged Republican voters. It's no surprise that the two men tied for second place both have their own TV shows.

Second, there's real ambivalence among Republicans about the current crop of GOP candidates. And the late start -- or, more accurately, the lack of a start -- for the GOP primary means these candidates haven't had a chance to define themselves and engage the electorate.

Finally, the race for the nomination is not a national contest. It's fought state by state. How Trump plays in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will be more important than how he polls among the broader Republican electorate.

Can Trump really do the kind of retail politicking needed to win over voters in these states? And, what happens when Trump has to actually answer questions about his business dealings, personal life and views on issues?

Campaigning on TV is the easy part. Eating a pork chop on a stick while sweating in the August heat at the Iowa State Fair or slogging through snow drifts to kiss babies and shake hands in New Hampshire is a whole different ball game.

Trump has been jumping on the "birther" bandwagon recently, repeatedly raising questions about whether President Obama was actually born in the United States and calling on the president to release his official birth certificate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'I'm Not Nearly as Optimistic': Democratic Leader Predicts Shutdown

Reid [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- One of the key negotiators in budget talks expressed little optimism that a deal would be reached in time to avoid a government shutdown Friday night.

"The numbers are basically there," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday.  "But I am not as nearly as optimistic -- and that's an understatement -- as I was 11 hours ago.  The numbers are extremely close."

Reid took to the Senate floor Thursday morning to say the two sides have come to an agreement on spending cuts, but are still at odds over extraneous "ideological matters."

"If this government shuts down -- and it looks like it's headed in that direction -- it's going to be based on my friends in the House of Representatives," he said.

Reid is accusing Republicans of holding up a deal because they are insisting on keeping so-called "riders" -- amendments that passed in the House -- related to government funding for abortion and limiting the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to enforce restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.  He additionally blamed the situation on "rambunctious" freshman Republicans in the House.

Aides to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, say Reid is not telling the truth.  They insist they are still negotiating on numbers and "nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to."

"What Sen. Reid said is not correct," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.  "There is no agreement on spending cuts or policy."

Republicans also say they would not block a deal over abortion, but are simply asking for a provision that would ban the District of Columbia government from funding abortion.  They say Reid himself has previously supported this several times.

"We are not budging on abortion," one Democratic source told ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deal Or No Deal? Shutdown Showdown Comes Down to The Wire  

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With a little more than a day to go to avert a government shutdown, both sides are still at loggerheads on a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Negotiators worked through the night and President Obama said a 90-minute Oval Office meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was “productive.”

“I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Obama said, adding, “I remain confident that if we are serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete the deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.”

Reid said he has “confidence that we can get this done,” but emphasized “we are not there yet.” Boehner, meanwhile, referred to “some honest differences” that continue to prolong the standoff.

“I want to reiterate that there is no agreement on a number and there is no agreement on the policy,” Boehner said Wednesday night. “But there’s an intent on both sides to continue to work together to try to resolve this.”

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos hears that negotiators are still a few billion dollars and several policy riders away from a deal. And in his exclusive interview with Speaker Boehner before Wednesday's White House meeting, the Ohio Republican said he and his GOP counterparts would keep “fighting for the largest cuts that we can.”

“The Democrats controlled the House last year, they controlled the Senate.…And we had a Democrat in the White House. They should have done this budget last year,” Boehner told Stephanopoulos. “Now, we’ve kept the government open while cutting about $10 billion worth of spending.…We’re cleaning up last year’s mess.” 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boehner: Revenue Increases 'On the Table' If It Means Big 2012 Budget Deal

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- If considering revenue increases leads to a big 2012 budget deal for Republicans then so be it, Speaker John Boehner told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

“I’ll put everything on the table. I think Washington has a spending problem. I don’t think it has a revenue problem. I’m not interested in raising taxes on the American people. But if it takes leaving it on the table to have the conversation, I’ll have the conversation,” he said.

Boehner said Congress is done kicking “the can down the road” and said it’s time to follow in Rep. Paul Ryan’s footsteps with his $6.2 trillion in cuts. 

“Paul Ryan did a marvelous job in outlining how we can reform this government.  How we can put it on a path to prosperity.  And I’m proud of the work that he did,” Boehner said.

Proud of all the work, including replacing Medicare? Republicans ran ads against the president’s healthcare plan saying it would cut $500 billion from Medicare.

“If you look at what Paul Ryan’s doing we’re talking about transforming Medicare and making sure that it exists. You know what the greatest single threat to Medicare is?  Doing nothing. Doing nothing is the greatest threat to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” he said.

“We make clear that no senior and no one 55 or older will be affected by any of these changes. But for those that are 54 and under we’re going to have to make modifications to these programs or they will not exist.”

Boehner said he was “begging” President Obama for months to “lock arms” and address reforms– but said the president told him “we’ll see.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Deal Yet After White House Budget Meeting

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After a late night, 90-minute meeting Wednesday in the Oval Office with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, President Obama declared no deal in the budget standoff but still called the meeting "productive" and is confident a deal can get done before a government shutdown comes.

"I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding," Obama said, though he declined to elaborate on the sticking points.

"I remain confident that if we are serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete the deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.  But it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved.  It means the people will have to recognize that a government shutdown has real consequences for real people," Obama said from the podium in the briefing room. 

Obama vowed an around-the-clock effort and promised a status check Thursday morning.

"If we haven't made progress, we're going to go back at it again.  And we're going to keep on pounding away at this thing because I'm absolutely convinced that we can get this done," Obama said.  "There’s no reason why we should not be able to complete a deal."

After Obama finished making his points, Boehner and Reid took their turn in front of the cameras, making their respective points outside the White House.

Describing the meeting, Reid said, "It was very honest, we’ve narrowed the issues significantly and we’re going to continue working.  Our staffs are going to work through the night.  The speaker and I will get back together tomorrow morning and see how they did and continue.  I have confidence that we can get this done.  We are not there yet but the hope lies eternal."

Boehner echoed Reid but added his own twist, saying no numbers or policy have been settled.

"We did have a productive conversation this evening," Boehner said.  "We do have some honest differences but I do think we made some progress.  But I want to reiterate that there is no agreement on a number and there is no agreement on the policy.  But there’s an intent on both sides to continue to work together to try to resolve this.  No one wants the government to shut down.  We are going to continue to work throughout the night and tomorrow."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donald Trump Looking Good in Early Polls for 2012 Presidential Run

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Potential 2012 presidential candidate Donald Trump is gaining ground in the Republican Party, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Trump, the real estate mogul and host of NBC's The Apprentice, has talked seriously about seeking the GOP presidential nomination and voters are seriously taking him at his word, judging by the survey that shows him running second behind frontrunner Mitt Romney in a hypothetical poll of Republican candidates.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, leads by 21 percent, with Trump and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tied in second with 17 percent.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comes in third with 11 percent followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 10 percent.

Interestingly, none of these Republican hopefuls have said definitely that they're running for president.

Trump has raised a stir lately by joining those in the "birther" movement who question whether President Obama was born in the U.S.  This has apparently resonated with people who identify themselves with the Tea Party movement: the NBC/WSJ poll shows Trump the most popular Republican with this group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


John McCain Says He's Sitting Out 2012 Primaries

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain has had it with presidential primaries.

The 2008 Republican nominee said Wednesday that he won't be doing any campaigning or endorsing, at least until voters decide which Republican they want to put up against President Obama in 2012.

Cracking a joke at his own expense, McCain told reporters, "I intend, as is the tradition of losers, to remain out of the primaries."

As for who he personally favors to get the GOP nod, the veteran Arizona lawmaker is playing it very close to the vest.

Pressed about whether he'd endorse his 2008 running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain would only say that if she decides to run, "I believe she will be very competitive.  She has a significant and strong Republican base in the Republican Party."

Whoever the eventual candidate is, McCain believes that person can make a strong case why voters shouldn't reelect Obama, saying, "He promised change and we really didn’t see change.  We increased spending and size of the federal government.  We’re now rejoicing that unemployment is down to 8.8 percent."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NJ Governor Calls His State's Teachers Union 'Political Thugs'

Governor's Office/Tim Larsen(KEARNY, N.J.) -- New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie took another shot at his state's teachers Wednesday by describing their union leaders as "political thugs."

In an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Christie offered no apology for his often tough talk that has left some teachers feeling bruised, and also addressed the possibility of a presidential run in 2012.

While sitting in the school library at Lincoln School in Kearny, New Jersey, Christie told Sawyer that it's essential for his state's education system to change, and he blames the teachers union for the harsh cuts his administration is making, which include layoffs and larger classrooms.

"I believe the teachers in New Jersey in the main are wonderful public servants that care deeply.  But their union, their union are a group of political thugs," Christie said.

He said the New Jersey Education Association refused to negotiate on a salary freeze last year.

"They should have taken the salary freeze," he said.  "They didn't and now, you know, we had to lay teachers off.  They chose to continue to get their salary increases rather than be part of the shared sacrifice."

Dismissing objections to his blunt talk, Christie said, "We're from New Jersey and when you're from New Jersey, what that means is you give as good as you get."

Christie is also suggesting a dramatic change in the state's tenure program, forcing tenured teachers to undergo a yearly review and face removal from tenure if they're found to be ineffective.

Christie's tough talk for teachers unions has found a receptive audience beyond his state borders.  A political unknown on the national stage just two years ago, Christie, 48, is now mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.  But the governor repeated his claim Wednesday that he has no plans to run in 2012.

"No, I'm not running for president," Christie said.  "I don't feel ready in my heart to be president.  And unless I do, I don't have any right offering myself to the people of this country."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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