The specter of a government shutdown grew exponentially Thursday when House Speaker John Boehner drew a hard line on government spending, promising to accept not even a temporary government-funding extension that doesn’t include serious cuts.
The move triggered an immediate and fierce response from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who ramped up a cross-chamber fight Democrats have been waging against House Republicans for weeks over whether the GOP spending-cut demands could culminate in a shutdown on March 4, the date the government runs out of money.
The firestorm was set off on Thursday when Boehner said he was “not going to move any kind of short-term [spending bill] at current levels.”
“When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips: we’re going to cut spending,” Boehner declared to reporters in the Capitol.
House Republicans are walking a fine-line of sticking to their guns on spending cuts, while risking a political backlash if Senate Democrats successfully pin any government shutdown on their unwillingness to compromise.
For now, Republicans are positioning themselves with a clear message to Reid and the White House: take our bill cutting current funding levels by more than $60 billion, or agree to some other cut in the short term, or risk a government shutdown.