Teams from the Senate and House negotiating a six-month federal budget deal for the remainder of the fiscal year are making 'good progress' even as the rhetorical battle among Republican and Democratic Party leaders rages in a bid to avoid an April 8 shutdown.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that talks between members of the House and Senate appropriations committees on negotiating a fiscal 2011 budget to fund the federal government for the next six months were making good progress.
Republicans had initially pushed for $100 billion in cuts compared to the previous fiscal year, however that number seems to have dropped slightly, according to Biden. The former Senator said he was at the negotiations to make sure that Democrats in the Senate and the President are both on the same page. We're on the same page.
I think we're making good progress, he told reporters at the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday. We're all working off the same number now, $73 billion, he said, referring to the size of budget cuts to be made.
However he said there were still some differences ahead of the April 8 deadline, when current funding will end and a shutdown of some federal services could take place.
Obviously, there's a difference in the composition of that number -- what's included, what's not included, he said.
Negotiations were set to continue on Thursday.
Biden also spoke about so-called riders that will be attached to the budget bill, which can include policy proposals unrelated to the budget.
Part of the negotiation in there doesn't relate to dollar amounts. It relates to what they will swallow and we could swallow relative to riders, Biden said.
There are certain things we're just not going to do on riders, even in fyou agree with everything else, he said.
So that's why it's not a deal until it's a whole deal, he said.
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Wednesday that Republicans were serious about resolving the matter. Congress has failed to pass a budget covering the whole year and has passed six continuing resolutions allowing for temporary extension since President Barack Obama made his proposal last year.
Cantor on Wednesday pressed the issue saying Republicans would act to get the continuing resolution passed. He said that on Friday, the Republican leadership will bring to the House floor a bill that calls for the Senate to pass a continuing resolution before the current three week extension expires.
The consequence for not doing so will be to make the original House proposal passed five weeks ago, H.R. 1, law. The bill to be voted on Friday says that If Congress does not pass the Continuing Resolution, members of Congress will not be paid.
Simple as that. We're serious. We want to take care of this problem so that we can get on about the business of this nation and get Americans back to work, he said.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday that the the House bill being proposed was symbolic and a waste of time, and urged Republicans not at the negotating table to place their efforts elsewhere.
While our office negotiates with Speaker Boehner's office, the Republicans who aren't in the room should work with Democrats to pass bills that create jobs and help struggling families instead of wasting time on symbolic stunts and continuing to cling to a bill that has already been rejected by the Senate and would kill 700,000 American jobs, said Reid spokesman Jon Summers.