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Federal Budget Hourglass Running Out

Federal Budget Hourglass Running Out

By Whitney Roper, Contributing Writer

With only a few days to go, Republicans and Democrats have yet to reach an agreement and decide the federal budget if they plan on avoiding a government shutdown.

April 8th marks the date the short term measures on the budget are set to expire. Congress must put an end to its Continuing Resolution proposals and try to hammer out a federal budget for fiscal year 2011.

Since last year, the federal government has supported a series of 6 short term stopgap budget efforts. Many government leaders have already expressed their disdain for another CR. Senator Pat Toomey has pledged, along with others, to not vote yes to another extension.

In addition, Senator Casey, along with 15 others, wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, “It is essential that we work together to avoid a government shutdown, but if we cannot do our jobs and keep the government functioning, we should not get paid.”

As time closes in, everyone is feeling the heat and pressure to negotiate is on.

Republicans urge making big cuts to the current federal budget to try and get spending under control but are being met with opposition from their Democratic counterparts.

Republicans have proposed cutting funding for the EPA, which would restrict the agency from regulating greenhouse gases. No official reaction from the Democrats was reported, but it could be a possible area in which spending is cut. Democrats in the House have shown support for regulation measures that would stop the FCC from enforcing rules on the internet.

However, proposals to defund programs like Planned Parenthood and amend the current health care law are not things that the Democrats are as willing to compromise on.

Last Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats met to craft a possible agreement that would cut $33 billion. Up from last week’s initial agreement on where $10 billion of those cuts would be made, lawmakers have since decided that the remaining $23 billion to be cut could come from social program funding.   

“Getting our fiscal house in order (and) getting a balanced budget is an absolutely necessary condition for the strong economic growth and job creation that, frankly, we were sent here to accomplish.” Senator Toomey, along with every other Senate Republican, introduced a balanced budget amendment to try and curb future fiscal fumbles.

Republicans aren’t as willing to agree on more Democrat-suggested plans. To counter the possibility of raising the debt ceiling in the 2011 and future budgets, Republican Senator Pat Toomey introduced new legislation.

But some reports indicate that the $14.3 trillion debt limit will be reached either this month or next. If such is the case, lawmakers will run the risk of defaulting on fiscal obligations or will have to raise the debt ceiling, a concept the GOP is not ready or willing to accept just yet.

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