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Stopgap budget could prevent government shutdown

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 28, 2011

Stopgap budget could prevent government shutdown

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 28, 2011


BOB MOON: Congress is closing in on a deal to avoid a federal shutdown at the end of this week. Uncle Sam’s pockets are due to be empty as of Friday, when a stopgap funding bill expires. Now Congress is working on another short-term bill that would cut spending by $4 billion, and keep the government open until mid-March.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer joins us now, live, from Washington. So Nancy, where are these cuts coming from?

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Well, Bob first of all, $4 billion here in Washington isn’t that much. But having said that, more than $600 million of that would come from cuts in federal highway funding for states. There would also be reductions in federal grants to help states run elections. President Obama has already proposed getting rid that. And the bill would eliminate almost $3 billion in earmarks.

MOON: OK, so, what happens now?

GENZER: Both sides say they’ll give it the old college try. They say they will work together to avoid a government shutdown. Here’s House Speaker John Boehner, speaking last night at a religious broadcasters’ convention.

JOHN BOEHNER: So the House will pass a shorter term bill that will also keep the government running while including reasonable spending cuts at the same time. It won’t eat the whole loaf at the same time. We’ll make him eat it one slice at a time.

Boehner is saying this will just be one more step in the process. Republicans want big cuts — along the lines of $61 billion. This week’s stop gap bill would just last two weeks. The idea is that Congress would use those two weeks to finally pass a bill to fund the government through the fiscal year.

MOON: Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer in Washington, thanks.

GENZER: You’re welcome.


BOB MOON: The government is supposed to run out of money on Friday. Both sides, though, appear willing to pass a two-week extension that includes some cuts — but really just gives lawmakers time to debate the larger issue.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer reports on the small cuts that make up the two-week budget.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: This latest stopgap bill would cut $4 billion — mainly from programs that President Obama has already proposed cutting, including a reading program and state election funding. The short-term bill would also eliminate almost $3 billion in earmarks. Those spending requests for special projects in congressional districts.

Republicans and Democrats are still wrangling over spending. House Speaker John Boehner says the spending squabble doesn’t have to cause a government shutdown.

JOHN BOEHNER: We have a moral responsibility to address the problems that we face. That means working together to cut spending and rein in government. Not shutting it down.

Congress never did manage to hammer out a budget bill for this year. The two-week stopgap bill would allow more negotiations on a spending measure to fund the government through September 30th — the end of the government’s budget year.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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