The U.S. House and Senate are racing the clock before a stopgap funding measure expires and the government loses its funding altogether. Senator Blunt says a lot of hard work lies ahead.
House and Senate leaders say even if another short-term fix is approved before federal funding runs out — leading to a government shutdown — they still have to forge a deal that will last the rest of the fiscal year.
Senator Blunt says work continues to iron out differences between the two chambers, which estimates show are about $50 billion apart on coming to a consensus.
He says each department is going to have to look at where to make cuts as they look at appropriations, noting that the American public has had to cut back on spending for the past two decades … he says the government needs to follow suit.
Blunt is quick to say the problem can be blamed in inaction by the previous Congress, and on the president.
“Particularly in the extraordinary larger amounts we are spending now than we ever spent before,” he says, “and that goes right up to the end of 2008. In fact, the monthly deficit in Feburary is very close to the 10-year average that ended in 2008 … up to the time Barack Obama became president.”
Earlier this week, the Democratic majority in the Senate unanimously voted against a plan passed by House Republicans to cut more than $60 billion from spending for the current year. Then, a handful of Democrats joined Republicans in saying “no” to a Democratic proposal that would cut spending by $6.5 billion.
Congress still must vote on the 2012 budget in the face of a national debt that now totals $14.3 trillion.