Budget Talks to Avoid Government Shutdown Resume

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Congressional negotiators are getting close to a budget deal with $33 billion in spending cuts, according to Vice President Joe Biden.

"There's no reason why, with all that's going on in the world and with the state of the economy, that we can't avoid a government shutdown," Biden told reporters after a meeting in the Capitol with Senate Democratic leaders.

But conservative lawmakers and Tea Party members are hoping for much deeper cuts than the proposed $33 billion figure.

Countdown to a Shutdown?

With each passing day, the nation inches closer to a federal government shut down.

For those who want to count the hours, Sen. Paul Broun, R-Ga., has launched the website CountdownToTheShutdown.com. 

In the next eight days, lawmakers must agree on how to spend American's tax dollars and borrowed money through the close of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
The House of Representatives passed a budget plan 40 days ago that included $60 billion in spending cuts. But the Senate has yet to act.

House Republicans have accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., of putting politics over policy.

Lawmaker: Cuts too 'Extreme'
In a conference call, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. called the House spending cuts "extreme," thinking his words would only be heard by colleagues.  But reporters were also on the line as he discussed splitting Republicans away from the Tea Party.

"I always use the word extreme -- that's what the caucus instructed me to do the other week," Schumer said. "Extreme cuts and all these riders and Boehner's in a box, but if he supports the Tea Party, there's inevitably going to be a shutdown."

However, Sen. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said the only thing that was extreme was the national debt.

"We've never been in instructed to refer to the other party as extreme.  And in fact, it's the American people that have instructed us to address what is really extreme and that's the national debt," she said.
The House is waiting on the Senate to pass a plan so the two sides can meet at the bargaining table.        

"You either cut spending or you raise taxes - where is Harry Reid's plan to raise taxes?" Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. asked. "How are the people going to suffer? How are they going to deal with increased costs due to higher taxes?"
At issue for lawmakers, is how much to cut. Democrats are working to ease the GOP's cuts, while Tea Party backed Republicans want to cut even deeper.

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