Congress gave itself a three-week reprieve on a government shutdown, then spent the first 10 days on vacation. Now, lawmakers return with the shutdown deadline once again looming, and a deal seemingly as far away as ever.
The House has spent more than 70 hours debating spending this year, and has produced a bill. The Senate has spent less than five hours officially debating spending, and has rejected the House bill, but has yet to produce an alternative of its own.
With another shutdown deadline looming — this time on April 8 — the negotiations have yielded little.
“After days of positive negotiations, with significant flexibility shown by the speaker, the House Republican leadership is back to agonizing over whether to give in to right-wing demands that they abandon any compromise on their extreme cuts,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Friday, putting the blame on House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
Democrats prefer to negotiate a final deal behind closed doors and have all lawmakers jump together, rather than have an open process and write a bill on the Senate floor.