Lawmakers Divided Over Budget Negotiations | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Lawmakers Divided Over Budget Negotiations

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As House Republican leaders struggle to corral the votes needed to keep the government's lights on, Democrats in the region are calling for broader negotiations to unwind sequestration.

Conservatives aren't happy party leaders want to allow funding to flow to the president's health care law so they're threatening a government shutdown. Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen says this provides an opportunity for moderates to remove the indiscriminate budget cuts weighing down federal agencies.

"We think that we should replace that sequester," he says. "It's doing a lot of damage to the economy and these other important priorities."

Van Hollen and other Democrats are pushing a bill to replace the sequester, but they're in the minority party and it has no chance of passing. Still, he says Republican leaders need to start negotiating ways to undo sequestration or else it will continue to pinch the region.

"Which the Congressional Budget Office tells us will cost about a million jobs by this time next year, in addition to the disruption it's doing to Head Start programs and Meals on Wheels and medical research," he says.

Without congressional action, government funding runs out on September 30.

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