Chances Up for Federal Shutdown
The chances of a government shutdown are on the rise.
With less than three weeks to strike a deal before government funding for the year is scheduled to expire, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are moving in opposite directions.
Lawmakers from both parties stress they want to avoid a rerun of the stalemate that led to a shutdown in late 1995 and early 1996. But the rhetoric on spending has escalated, and Democratic and GOP officials are already prepping for the blame game.
Positions have hardened after a revolt last week by House conservatives, who forced GOP leaders to nearly double their proposed spending cuts for 2011.
If the cuts pass the House, Senate Democrats say they are dead on arrival in the upper chamber.
“I think the direction of last week is the wrong direction and puts us closer on the path to a shutdown,” said William Hoagland, a former senior aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
Hoagland, who also served as staff director under former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), hopes that Senate deliberations will defuse a potential crisis.
“That’s why we have a Senate and a process we’ll go through, and cooler minds will prevail at some point and end up with a solution that will not necessitate a shutdown,” he said.
Government funding is due to run out on March 4, giving Democratic and GOP leaders little time to work out a compromise...