President Barack Obama said on Friday lawmakers negotiating a six-month budget extension that stretches until the end of the current fiscal year are close to a compromise and it was time to agree.
Congressional lawmakers in the House and Senate have been in negotiations for weeks to agree on a six-month extension to the federal budget to close out the 2011 fiscal year on September 30.
There appears to be an agreement between leaders of both parties on how much spending we should cut. Of course, there are still details and differences to work out, and neither side will end up with everything they want, Obama said on Friday as he visited Landover, Maryland to announce an initiative to boost electric car sales among U.S. businesses.
[W]e know that both sides are close. We know that a compromise is within reach, Obama added.
The President has until April 8 to sign a budget deal before the current three week extension expires. Failing to reach a deal would result in the shutdown of some federal services.
It's time to agree on a budget that makes us live within our means while still investing in our future, he said.
No Final Deal on Budget, Working Cuts Touted
No deal has been reached on a budget extension, but it appears there's a working target on the size of budget cuts, as lawmakers continue to negotiate on what the specific cuts will be made and what non-budget related riders will be included in a bill to put up for a vote.
House and Senate leaders are publicly emphasizing different aspects of closed-door negotiations, with one side saying there's no agreement and the other speaking about the target.
There's no agreement on numbers, and nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to, House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday.
Top Democrats say lawmakers are working with a $73 billion target for cuts. The figure is based on a proposal made in 2010 for the fiscal year 2011 by President Barack Obama.
The $73 billion deal is only a reduction of $33 billion from current spending from 2009 levels. The Republican-led House passed H.R. 1 in January, a bill that would spend $100 billion less than Obama's fiscal 2011 proposal. The Senate rejected those cuts as being too high, setting the stage for the current round of negotiations.
Rhetoric from Boehner, Reid
It's now been 40 days since the House passed H.R. 1, which keeps the government open and cuts spending for the rest of this fiscal year. Forty days, and Senate Democrats still have not passed a bill or come up with a credible plan to reduce spending, Boehner said Thursday.
He said that while Republicans control one-half of one-third of the government, they would continue to fight for the largest spending cuts that we can get.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday concurred with a Wednesday statement by Vice President Joe Biden that teams of negotiators were aiming toward the $73 billion figure and good progress was being made toward a deal.
Now we have to figure out how to get there, Reid said.
The cuts needed to be based on principles and priorities and that [w]hat we cut is much more important than how much we cut, he said.
Reid said he appreciated Boehner's participation in the talks but had strong words for the conservative Tea Party.
I'm sure it's not easy trying to negotiate with the Tea Party screaming in his right ear, Reid said.