House Speaker John Boehner fulfilled the House’s commitment to passing a short-term budget that cuts $61 billion from current spending levels, but he’s not ruling out the possibility of a compromise with the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Responding to a question Tuesday about whether he foresees the House ultimately budging from the $61 billion figure, the Ohio Republican did not say that the chamber would hold firm when the Senate returns their proposal, which will likely include less than a $61 billion reduction in spending levels.
“I think all of us know that cutting spending in Washington, D.C. never happens, and so to think that we’re going to have significant cuts in spending levels is not going to be easy,” Boehner said. “I understand that, Senator Reid understands that, but I think all of us know that we are going to cut spending.”
To provide more time for those negotiations, the House Tuesday passed a short-term spending bill that chops $4 billion from the budget over the next two weeks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that his chamber will pass the House version of the short-term bill and keep the government open until March 18, but has vowed that the long-term House bill will be adjusted and sent back.
Reid said the two-week continuing resolution, while not ideal, will allow time for Democrats to come to a conclusive, long-term agreement with Republicans over the budget.
“It’s obvious that we’d like more than two weeks to do this, but the Republicans are bound and determined to stuff the next matter with a lot of bad stuff out of [the long-term funding bill],” he said. “We’re going to work with them.”
But when it comes to finding a way to fund the government through the fiscal year, Senate Democrats might not pose Boehner’s biggest hurdle: A proposal with fewer cuts will test the limits of some of the House’s most conservative members, who could try to block the bill if there aren’t enough cuts.
Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.