Friday, March 25, 2011

Federal Budget Deal Appears Unlikely, Officials Say

WASHINGTON — With time running short and budget negotiations this week having reached an angry impasse, Congressional leaders are growing increasingly pessimistic about reaching a bipartisan deal that would avert a government shutdown in early April.

Senior Democratic officials involved in high-level efforts to bring House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House to a budget agreement said that while some progress had been made toward an accord on an overall level of spending cuts, the parties remain divided on the final figure and must still resolve the fate of ideologically charged policy provisions demanded by House conservatives.

Some senior Republicans, after relying on House Democrats to help pass the most recent short-term measure, are also uneasy about having to team up with Democrats again to pass any compromise that dips too far below the $61 billion in spending reductions endorsed by the House for the current fiscal year. Senate Democrats want to wring some of the savings out of mandatory spending programs like Medicare, an approach Republicans are resisting.

Aides said that even if the myriad outstanding issues were resolved and an agreement struck late next week after lawmakers return, it would be a challenge to write the legislation and move it through Congress before the current financing bill expires on April 8.

“A deal is still possible, but it would take a real breakthrough,” said one senior official, who like others knowledgeable about the confidential budget negotiations would discuss them only without being publicly identified.
Read the rest here.

No comments: