Over the past couple of months, the likelihood of a government shutdown, as speculated by the political media, has wildly fluctuated on a weekly or even daily basis. So take this with a grain of salt: Today, Chuck Todd & Co at First Read contend that “[m]ore than ever before, we seem on the brink of a shutdown.” The reason? Though it seemed as if Democrats and Republicans would come together on $33 billion in spending cuts, Speaker John Boehner declared yesterday that $33 billion wouldn’t be sufficient, and GOP leadership has begun distributing instructions to congressmen about the mechanics of a shutdown. Negotiations are taking place at the White House today. [First Read/MSNBC, Politico, Fox News]
Update: Talks at the White House involving President Obama, Boehner, Joe Biden, and Harry Reid earlier today failed to produce a deal on the budget. “Boehner’s account … did nothing to suggest the White House and Congress were closer to reaching a deal,” the AP reports. Obama reportedly opposes a short-term extension proposed by Boehner that would cut $12 billion over one week, and he sounded irritated after the meeting:
“We are now at a point where there is no excuse to extend this further,” Mr. Obama said during a surprise appearance at the daily White House briefing. “I shouldn’t have to oversee a process where Congress deals with last-year’s budget when we only have six months left.”
The president, who has mostly stayed out of the budget debate until now, was visibly irritated over the impasse in negotiations. “There can be some negotiations about composition” of the cuts, Mr. Obama said, but he said he will negotiate on ideological issues like abortion in the current budget discussions.
Funding for government operations runs until Friday at midnight, but an agreement must be reached by tonight in order for the budget to be passed by both chambers of Congress before the deadline.