- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seeking to buy more time for spending negotiations to bear fruit, House Republican leaders announced another one-week stop-gap spending bill late Monday night that would cut $12 billion more from 2010 spending levels.

The move is the latest in the ongoing chess match between House Republicans and Senate Democrats as both sides try to hash out the already long-overdue 2011 spending bills. They are racing an April 8 government shutdown deadline.

Republicans said they took many of their proposed cuts from suggestions President Obama, his budget director or Senate Democrats have said they would be willing to accept in recent weeks. They hope to vote on the bill this week, but it’s unclear whether the Senate would, or even could, take up the measure before Friday’s deadline.

In announcing the new bill after 11 p.m. Monday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Kentucky Republican, said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has been negotiating in bad faith.

“Leader Reid has attempted to abuse the budget process to conceal additional spending through phony offsets and gimmicks,” Mr. Rogers said. “He has proposed damaging cuts to national defense to pay for lower-priority domestic programs. He has prohibited the involvement of his own Democrat Senators in negotiations. And, he has dictated that all policy provisions and legislative language be cleared through him and him alone – destroying the ability of negotiators to continue in their work.”

But the White House and Senate Democrats say House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, is the one who’s walking away from a deal on the table that would cut an additional $23 billion in spending on top of the $10 billion in cuts Congress has already approved in two other short-term spending bills.

“A compromise on the budget is right there for the taking, assuming the speaker still wants one,” Mr. Schumer said earlier Monday. He has repeatedly framed Mr. Boehner as caught between Democrats and tea party Republicans, who want to see deeper cuts.

The key moving parts in any agreement are the overall dollar amount of cuts, the exact composition of those cuts, and what legislative add-ons, or “policy riders,” will be attached.

When House Republicans passed a bill in February cutting $61 billion from 2010 spending, they included a series of riders to halt funding for the administration’s environmental and health care plans and to defund Planned Parenthood.

Senators and Mr. Obama have said most riders must be dropped for a bill to pass.

While the House has passed its version of spending, the Senate has yet to pass a bill. Instead, it has rejected all options it has been presented: both House Republicans’ bill and Senate Democrats’ counter-proposal.

Mr. Rogers‘ one-week spending bill also includes full funding for the Defense Department for the rest of this year. Key Senate Republicans had said they would not vote for any more short-term bills unless the Defense Department’s longer-term needs were taken care of.

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