October 14, 2013

Spending stumbling block to budget deal

Senate Republicans and Democrats at an impasse in thier efforts to avoid default in four days.

By Donna Cassata
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Protesters cheer as large trucks arrive at a rally at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Leaders in the U.S. Senate have taken the helm in the search for a deal to end the partial government shutdown and avert a federal default. The rally was organized to protest the closure of the Memorial, subsequent to the shutdown, and lack of access to it by World War II veterans, who traveled there on Honor Flight visits.

The Associated Press

“We haven’t picked a number, but clearly we need to negotiate between those two,” Durbin said.

Republicans dismiss the latest request as Reid moving the goalposts in negotiations as they were getting closer to resolving the stalemate that has paralyzed Washington. They also argue that it is disingenuous for Democrats to resist any changes in the 3-year-old health care law while trying to undo the 2011 budget law that put the cuts on track.

“I think the Democrats are on the verge of being one tick too cute as they see the House possibly in disarray – they now are overreaching, and I think that what we’ve got to do is get this back in the middle of the road, act like adults,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Graham and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said they would not support any deal that upends the spending limits imposed by the 2011 law, and predicted that their Senate GOP colleagues would oppose it as well.

Out of play, for now, was the Republican-led House, where Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told GOP lawmakers early Saturday that his talks with the president had ground to a halt. Obama telephoned House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Sunday, focusing on the need for any increase in the debt limit without concessions.

Also sidelined, at least for now, was the plan forged by Collins and a bipartisan coalition to briefly fund the government and extend the $16.7 trillion debt limit, in exchange for steps like temporarily delaying the medical device tax that helps fund the health care law.

Democrats said Collins’ plan curbed spending too tightly, and Reid announced Saturday it was going nowhere.

Collins said Sunday that both Democrats and Republicans continue to offer ideas and say they want to be part of the group working to reopen the government and address the debt ceiling before Thursday’s deadline.

“We’re going to keep working, offering our suggestions to the leadership on both sides of the aisle in an attempt to be constructive and bring this impasse to an end. Surely we owe that to the American people,” Collins said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a participant in Collins’ talks, said Reid wouldn’t accept everything in the Collins proposal, but he “knows there are some positive things in that plan,” such as opening the government in a “smart timeframe,” not defaulting on debt and doing something in the long term on the budget.

Klobuchar and Collins were on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Graham appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” Corker was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” Schumer spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and Lagarde was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Kimberly Hefling and Michele Salcedo contributed to this report.

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