Bickering intensifies as stances harden just hours before a government shutdown

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, April 8, 2011 11:39 EDT
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WASHINGTON – The two key budget negotiators affirmed that a deal still had not been struck late Friday morning, as the bitter sparring between Senate Democrats and House Republicans escalated less than 14 hours before a shutdown.

“When will the White House, when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting spending?” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in a brief media address, warning that growing deficits would harm job growth.

The speaker urged the Senate in the meantime to pass the one-week stopgap “troop funding” bill the House approved Thursday — which President Barack Obama has dismissed as a “distraction” and threatened to veto.

On the Senate floor moments later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) aggressively tore into Republicans for what he portrayed as their willingness to shut down the government if Title X family planning funds aren’t stripped from Planned Parenthood.

“Republicans want to shut down our nation’s government because they want to make it harder for women to get the health services they need,” Reid said. “Because they think there’s nothing more important than keeping women from getting cancer screenings.”

Calling that “indefensible,” he added that “Republican leaders in the House have only a few hours left to look in the mirror, snap out of it and realize how positively shameful that would be.”

“It is illegal to use federal funds for abortion services. So anyone who says this debate is over abortion isn’t being truthful.  It is about simple and important health services.”

Both leaders said they were hopeful that an agreement could be struck today, but even if that were to happen, they may not be able to maneuver a budget through procedural hurdles in Congress and enact it in time before Friday night.

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