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Analysis: Threat Of Government Shutdown Heightens

Congress is nearing the eleventh hour in the latest debate over government funding. They have until October 1 to pass a bill or face a government shutdown. Some local Democrats once hoped they would be reversing the heavy budget cuts known as the sequester by this point in the year. But with a shutdown now in sight, they're weighing how to get the government funded just through the next week, and trying not to lose leverage on the issue of federal spending. David Hawkings, writer of the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call has some of the details.

On Sen. Barbara Mikulski stressing that the government needs to stay open, while also being a proponent of the sequester cuts:

"She has really tried hard as the new chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee to give that committee a little bit more relevancy. It used to be one of the most powerful committees in Washington. It's lost its importance in the last few years, because they just haven't been able to get their job done. She is pushing very hard... in getting whatever deal they come up with in lasting no longer than seven weeks, because she says that if we just go on with a long-term extension, the less likely Congress will make spending decisions one program at a time."

On whether Hoyer and other House Democrats will maintain their position in not voting for the bill:

"They're sounding like it at this point. Just to review, the sequester takes all spending on discretionary programs down to about $965 billion for the coming year. The Democrats want to do about $70 billion, or about 7 percent more than that. They have said they're willing to do the halfway point, but the Republicans aren't interested in negotiating that. Hoyer has said he has almost all Democrats lined up to vote against this bill, no matter what."

On how the agenda will be affected if Congress does pass a continuing resolution that only lasts until mid-November:

"We just learned this week that the debt limit ceiling, that the Treasury previously said would not be reached until the end of October or November even, will actually be reached by Oct. 17. So after we get through this crisis, the next one is just 17 days down the road."


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