With less than 11 hours before the midnight Friday deadline, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., called proposed cuts made by Republicans reckless and doubted a deal will be made to stop a government shutdown.
Top Democrats and Republicans have publicly disagreed about the reasons for an impasse.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters both parties agreed to $38 billion in cuts on Thursday, but negotiations collapsed due to a dispute over funding for the group Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and other health services.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., however, has insisted the disagreement isn’t over social issues, but rather the overall spending cuts proposed in the deal.
Congressman Yarmuth says that across the board, the GOP budget plan is unacceptable and that most Democrats are opposed to the plan because it is too burdensome for seniors, workers and the poor.
“This is about much more than one issue for Democrats,” he says. “I know for some Republicans it is one issue or two issues, but this about what we consider to be reckless cuts that are not balanced at all across the economy and pose great threats to our economic recovery.”
There is a one-week budget extension stopgap bill that passed the GOP-controlled House Thursday, which would extend funding for the Defense Department and make $12 billion in cuts to other agencies. Boehner has encouraged President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to accept that legislation to avoid a shutdown until April 15.
Reid and White House officials have said that is a non-starter. And while there are ways to stop a shutdown, Yarmuth says that military personnel have already been informed that their paychecks will not be forthcoming.
One item in the budget that has gone under the radar is a GOP proposal to give the Pentagon $2 billion more than has requested, putting additional pressure on Democrats to cut discretionary spending for domestic programs.
The congressman says that the budget committee agreed military spending should be a part of the cuts, but that is not reflected in the current legislation.
“That’s one of my major objections to the cuts as they have been voted on in the House. And that is that they only impact these programs that help our most vulnerable citizens,” says Yarmuth. “And we certainly can’t exclude 20 percent of the budget which is the defense budget from cuts as well.”