By Debbie Gregory.
As the September 30th deadline to fund the federal government approaches and Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are locked in a stalemate over a budget agreement to keep the government open, the White House and Senate Democratic leadership signaled that they would be open to a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Press secretary Josh Earnest said a stopgap measure would not conflict with President Obama’s pledge to veto any budget resolution that locks in limits on defense and domestic spending, known as sequestration.
“I think we would perceive an internal contradiction between the word ‘short term’ and ‘lock in,’ Earnest told reporters.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that any short-term bill must be “clean.”
“That means, no riders, nothing with Planned Parenthood. Nothing with repealing what the Environmental Protection Agency has done. No repealing what the Dodd-Frank bill put into effect to stop us from having another Wall Street meltdown,” Reid said. “No riders dealing with immigration. Just a clean continuing resolution for a short period of time to allow us to do a more full, more complete deal in the very near future.”
Complicating the negotiations, a group of conservative lawmakers in the House of Representatives has pledged to oppose any spending bills that fund Planned Parenthood.
Any short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that materializes in the near term, whether before October 1 or within a short time after a government shutdown, will likely fund federal programs at current levels until later this calendar year. This will allow a few months for budget negotiations. With a short-term CR, agencies would continue operating, albeit with caution about funding programs until final budget numbers are clear, knowing that additional cuts may be coming.
With that said, Congress must begin budget negotiations, both short- and long-term, in earnest. Neither defense nor non-defense agencies can plan with the uncertainties that continue to surround the federal budget.