Agreement on Spending Cuts Slipping As Preparations Begin for Possible Government Shutdown

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The White House and Congressional leaders met today, April 5, to reach agreement on how much to cut government spending for the remainder of the fiscal year and avoid a government shutdown. The meeting ended without the two parties reaching a deal.

At issue is whether federal spending would be cut for the fiscal year by $33 billion or $61 billion from what is less than one-fifth of the federal budget. Also at issue are policy riders that would prevent federal funding for Planned Parenthood, NPR, and other programs opposed by Republicans and supported by Democrats. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government ends on April 8 at midnight.

Without agreement on how to proceed, another short-term funding measure is possible. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers introduced a CR yesterday, April 4, to fund the government for one week with an additional $12 billion reduction in discretionary spending. This is the seventh CR that has been introduced since the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2010.

According to a press release from the House Committee on Appropriations, "all of the cuts [in the new CR] were also included in H.R. 1, and many were included in the President’s budget requests or the Senate’s alternative to H.R. 1."  There are no cuts to funding for the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation. The CR would provide funding for the Department of Defense for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Given the apparent stalemate, the U.S. House Committee on Administration issued a letter to House members today that provides guidance on legislative operations during a "lapse in appropriations." According to The Washington Post, the Office of Management and Budget has instructed agencies to begin preparing for a possible shutdown.

With the FY 2011 spending undecided, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled the FY 2012 budget, The Path to Prosperity, which would cut $6.2 trillion from the President’s budget over the next 10 years and reduce non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels. It also defunds the new health care law, signaling a battle over FY 2012 spending as well.