President Barack Obama dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to Capitol Hill on Thursday to begin negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders on how much to spend to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year in September.
The afternoon meeting comes a day after Obama signed a stop-gap bill that cuts $4 billion in spending and pushes back the prospect of a government shutdown for another two weeks. The House Republicans’ bill was initially opposed by Democrats, though it ultimately passed with broad bipartisan support.
Obama warned that it would be irresponsible for lawmakers to create the threat of a government shutdown every few weeks, and called on Congress to start working with Biden on a longer-term spending bill.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said those negotiations would only be productive if Democrats are also united around the need to cut spending.
White House chief of staff William Daley and budget director Jacob Lew met separately with House Democratic leaders Wednesday. The White House said Daley and Lew would also attend the meeting with Biden.
Republicans who control the House muscled through a bill last month that could cut spending over the next seven months by more than $60 billion from last year’s levels — and $100 billion from Obama’s budget request. It would also block implementation of Obama’s health care law and a host of environmental regulations. The Democratic-controlled Senate is resistant, and the White House has promised a veto if it does reach Obama. It could take weeks or months to negotiate a compromise funding measure that Obama would sign.
The GOP House measure blended dramatic cuts from almost every domestic agency. It also would block taxpayer money from going to public broadcasting and Planned Parenthood family planning efforts. Money for food inspection, college aid, grants to local schools and police and fire departments, clean water projects, job training and housing subsidies would be reduced.
Source: The Associated Press.