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Government Shutdown

The Brian Lehrer Show

Budget Battles

Friday, April 01, 2011

I’m going to vote for the bill that we in the House Republican Conference determine to be the best bill we can bring forward for the American people. It really is that simple. This is not about a number that is in the press today.

Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (NY-19) on the Brian Lehrer Show

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It's A Free Country ®

Congressman Explains GOP Schism Over Budget Battle

Friday, March 18, 2011

We're not repudiating leadership on the end game, we're just saying, 'We were sent here with a mission, the mission was to reign in spending, and we are going to be more conservative than others are in the Senate on this, so we want to push the bargaining position as far as we can.'

—Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) talking about his "no" vote on the continuing resolution to fund the federal government for three more weeks on the Brian Lehrer Show.

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Transportation Nation

Spending Detente Results in Transportation Cuts

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Republicans and Democrats locked in a spending fight on Capitol Hill appear to have averted the specter of  a government shutdown, for now. But the deal that sidestepped the showdown dealt some blows to transportation funding.

House Republicans easily passed a bill Tuesday extending government operations for two weeks beyond the current March 4th deadline. The idea is to give Republican and Democratic negotiators more time to cut a deal on government funding through September 30, the the remainder of Fiscal 2011. But the Republican-led Congress believes the American public is in the mood for spending cuts, so even the two-week peace offering contained $4 billion in immediate cuts.

That includes a $650 million cut in highway spending. The trim comes from increased spending from last fiscal year that the Obama Administration did not wish to continue anyway, according to the White House's 2012 Budget. The additional spending  would have sent more money to states through existing highway formulas, but will be cut if the president signs the 2-week extension bill.

The bill also shaves off $293 million in "surface transportation" earmarks, and another $25 million that would have been earmarked for "rail line relocation." It's all part of a move to kill about $2.7 billion in earmark spending in the measure.

The 2-week extension goes to the Senate floor today, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has predicted it will be approved. Then its on to President Obama's desk for a signature. But that hardly gets Congress into the clear. The bill only buys lawmakers a bit more time to continue negotiations on funding government operations for the rest of the fiscal year. Republicans are gunning for at least $61 billion in total spending reductions, so they'll still have an appetite for more cuts.

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The Takeaway

House Avoids Shutdown; Senate Votes Next

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In an effort to avoid a government shutdown, the U.S. House approved a stopgap budget on Tuesday that would buy Congress more time to approve a final budget. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure today. In a vote of 335-91, the House voted to cut $4 billion in spending in order to keep the government open until March 18. We talk with Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich about the bargaining chips being used to avoid a government shutdown.

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It's A Free Country ®

What's an 'Essential' Government Service?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our government does a lot of things, which is why the prospect of a shutdown to begin later this week can be so daunting and confusing. Basically, during a shutdown, federal agencies must freeze all non-essential services. How does each organization decide what's essential? And what does that word even mean to a government that rarely agrees on what's important?

A shutdown would be bad; hopefully, the budget battle doesn't come to that. Best to be prepared, so here's a rundown of how our government makes these difficult choices.

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