White House, Congress Remain at Odds in Push to Avoid Shutdown

BY News Desk  April 5, 2011 at 2:55 PM EST

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that GOP lawmakers and the White House had failed to reach an agreement three days before a potential government shutdown. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were schedule to continue meeting Tuesday afternoon.

President Obama; photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Obama said it would be “inexcusable” for Congress not to produce a final agreement and to force a shutdown, and that he would call Boehner and Reid back on Wednesday if no deal was reached. Republicans and Democrats must close a gap of tens of billions of dollars to fund the government through Sept. 30.

Officials say Boehner may set the target for cuts at $40 billion in exchange for a deal, an increase from the $33 billion originally on the table.

The last-minute haggling follows a series of stopgap funding measures, known as continuing resolutions, which led to the April 8 deadline. A three-week spending bill passed in mid-March, one of several designed to buy more time on Capitol Hill to iron out the longer-term budgetary picture.

Boehner had proposed a week-long extension, but President Obama dismissed another continuing resolution as an unacceptable delay in the inevitable: the need to agree on a long-term budget.

“That is not a way to run a government. I cannot have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets,” he said.

For his part, Boehner has said that Republicans “will not be put in a box” and forced to compromise on key tenants of their plan to cut spending.