Shutdown Might Happen Over a Measly $7 Billion

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Here's where we're at with this government-shutdown business: Funding for the federal government runs out on Friday at midnight, and though Speaker of the House John Boehner has proposed a one-week budget extension that cuts $12 billion, President Obama made it clear yesterday that he wasn't interested.

“That is not a way to run a government,” said Mr. Obama, who said he was willing to consider a short extension if Congress needed time to draft an agreed-upon compromise. “I can’t have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets.”

At the moment, Democrats have agreed to $33 billion in cuts for the rest of the fiscal year ending in September, while Boehner — moving the goalposts, Democrats griped — said yesterday that he could get his caucus behind $40 billion in cuts. With a measly $7 billion now separating them on a trillion-dollar-plus budget, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Boehner met again last night and could have had worse things to say afterward:

Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), also present at the White House, met later Tuesday for what both sides described as a “productive” session.

“The government is not going to be shut down—yet,” Reid said before closing the Senate Tuesday night. “There’s still air in the tire…I hope we have enough air in the tire to get where we need to go.”.

One motivational factor for Boehner to take Obama's advice and "figure out how to go to your caucus and declare victory" on the $33 billion figure is that, though polls show voters would spread the blame evenly in the event of a government shutdown, Boehner reportedly believes that Republicans would be harmed more than Democrats.

Speaker John Boehner is warning his Republican colleagues that Democrats would “win” a government shutdown and the GOP would suffer a political catastrophe if the federal government runs out of money at the end of this week.

“The Democrats think they benefit from a government shutdown. I agree,” Boehner said during a closed-door, 90-minute meeting on House Republicans on Monday night, according to several lawmakers who attended the session.

So that's where things stand. Wednesday will be full of more negotiations, but even more important, full of furious spinning, as both parties try to set the other up for blame when they both fail to agree on a budget because of $7 billion.

John Boehner: Democrats 'win' in government shutdown [Politico]
Budget wars: Down to the wire [Politico]
Budget Stances Harden as Deadline Nears for Shutdown [NYT]