Budget battle: Neither side blinks

By Charles Riley, CNNMoney staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- On Day 157 of operating without a full budget, and with 13 days to go before the latest short-term fix expires, lawmakers appear no closer to a deal to keep the government running.

Lawmakers stuck to entrenched positions Sunday, with Republicans insisting on spending cuts nearly 10 times larger than the $6.5 billion offered by the White House.

The apparent stall comes in the wake of a closed-door negotiating session on Thursday, when President Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden, budget director Jacob Lew and Chief of Staff William Daley to hammer out a plan with top lawmakers from both parties.

At that meeting, the White House proposed cutting an additional $6.5 billion from current funding levels. Republicans say that's not enough.

On Saturday, Obama signaled he is willing concede more ground.

"I'm prepared to do more," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "But we'll only finish the job together -- by sitting at the same table, working out our differences, and finding common ground."

But a broad consensus will be difficult to establish. The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate warned Sunday that cuts beyond the $6.5 billion level would have a detrimental effect on education and the economy.

"I think we've pushed this to the limit," Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said on "Fox News Sunday."

Still, the official line out of the White House is one of optimism that an agreement will be reached.

"Vice President Biden had a discussion with the four leaders," Daley said Sunday on "Meet the Press." "I think there's total agreement that no one wants a shutdown of this government."

The White House had already accepted a $4 billion reduction on Wednesday, when Obama signed a temporary spending bill that will keep the government running until March 18. That was the fifth short-term spending bill this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

But House Republicans have already passed a spending bill that would cut much more, reducing spending authority by $61 billion.

"We are only seven months away from the end of this fiscal year and we don't have a budget, which is kind of ridiculous," Daley said. "No company could get away with that." To top of page

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