Obama threatens to veto GOP budget extension plan

By Andrew Taylor

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 7 2011 11:19 a.m. MDT

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 7, 2011.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — House Republicans advanced a bill Thursday that would avoid a government shutdown for one more week, cut spending and fully fund the Pentagon, but the White House labeled the measure a distraction and said President Barack Obama would veto it.

Obama said in a statement he believes "we need to put politics aside and work out our differences" on a spending plan that covers the government through September, when the current budget year ends.

The president has signed two short-term extensions, but negotiations have proceeded fitfully.

The veto threat marked a sour turn in talks that Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday night were showing promise.

With a partial shutdown looming for Friday at midnight, it was not clear whether it represented a breakdown in the negotiation or a final round of maneuvering before a deal was struck.

Obama called Reid, D-Nev., and Boehner, R-Ohio, back to the White House for more talks Thursday afternoon.

Before departing the Capitol, Boehner urged the House to pass legislation to cut $12 billion, fund the Pentagon through the end of the year and keep the government running for a week.

"There is absolutely no policy reason for the Senate to not follow the House in taking these responsible steps to support our troops and to keep our government open," he said.

Boehner accused the White House of backsliding, adding that there hadn't been as much progress as it appeared after the late-night meeting Wednesday.

"It's really just more of the same. We're going to have real spending cuts. I don't know what some people don't understand about this," he said.

Reid said otherwise, although he, too, made it clear he wants to avoid a shutdown that the White House says would cause problems for combat troops overseas and delay Internal Revenue Service refunds for taxpayers at home.

"The issue is ideology, not numbers," he said.

He criticized Republican proposals to limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and prohibit the use of federal or local funds to pay for most abortions in the District of Columbia.

"These matters have no place on a budget bill," he said.

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House democratic leader, took issue with the Republicans" decision to include defense money in the bill.

"For them to want to disguise their bad proposal by hiding behind our troops is really a disservice to our troops," she said.

Despite Reid's assertion that the two sides largely had agreed on spending cuts, Boehner said partial agreements were not possible.

Boehner recently floated $40 billion in cuts, more than the $33 billion that the negotiators had adopted as a framework. But it was less than the $61 billion in a House-passed bill.

Other policy issues pressed by Republicans include blocking money to put in place Obama's health care bill; effectively stripping the EPA from enforcing rules on global warming, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and lakes in Florida; and limiting enforcement of last year's financial overhaul law.

Obama emerged from the negotiations late Wednesday night to declare that differences between Republicans and Democrats had narrowed somewhat. He also said only urgent action could avert a shutdown.

Even a brief shutdown could affect a wide range of Americans, from troops fighting abroad who are awaiting their pay to tourists planning trips to national parks.

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