You could sense that talks on a budget deal were hitting a wall, but now Susan Crabtree elaborates on that. Now Republicans are backing out of the deal on the baseline level of cuts:
“Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “That’s unacceptable. … If the government shuts down, it will be because Senate Democrats failed to do their job.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) followed suit. “[Senate Majority] Leader [Harry] Reid and Senator Schumer are promoting false promises and using sleight of hand budgeting to achieve an imaginary spending cut figure that is still far too low by comparison,” he said. “If the Democrats demand to defend every dime of government spending and force a government shutdown, that will be on their hands.”
They were backed up by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY): “Senator Reid is attempting to abuse the budget process and limit the ability of Appropriations negotiators to complete their work – dictating the use of gimmicks and phony accounting to sneak more spending through the Congress and by the American people,” his statement reads.
You can read Boehner’s entire statement. You can parse “their $33 billion” as a problem with the cuts Democrats want to make and not the level itself, but it certainly looks like something that negotiators wanted to put behind them.
Cantor and Rogers’ complaints are really the same – that’s about where the cuts come from. “Sleight of hand” in this case refers to efforts to cut mandatory program spending rather than take all the cuts from the domestic budget. Democrats have complaints about Republican appropriations staffers as well, particularly their aims to increase military spending and force more domestic cuts to make up the gap.
The President set up a meeting between the House and Senate leadership and the top appropriators for tomorrow, which many see as the drop-dead date for a deal. I don’t know how it will come together in the next 24 hours, so federal employees should be on shutdown watch.