Obama: Budget standoff may last beyond next week

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 3:26 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday Democrats and Republicans negotiating government spending bills for this year may not reach a March 18 deadline for resolving their dispute.

Obama told a news conference this meant another temporary spending bill may be needed so the two sides will have more time to work out their difference, but warned it would be "irresponsible" to keep funding the government this way.

"We may not be able to fully resolve this and meet next week's deadline for the continuing resolution, which means there may be potentially one more short-term extension," Obama said. "We can't keep on running the government based on two-week extensions. That's irresponsible."

Nonessential government services will begin to shut down after March 18 if the two parties cannot pass another stopgap bill, or reach a wider agreement on spending cuts.

"We've got a war in Afghanistan going on, we've got a wide range of issues facing the country...The notion that we can't get resolved last year's budget in a sensible way with serious but prudent spending cuts, I think defies common sense," Obama said.

With the U.S. budget deficit due to hit a record $1.65 trillion, Republicans and Obama's Democrats have been wrangling for weeks over spending cuts for this fiscal year that ends on September 30.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are seeking $61 billion in cuts through September, while Democrats have proposed around $10 billion.

"There are going to be certain things that House Republicans want that I will not accept," Obama said. "We've got to get serious about managing our budget, but we can't stop investing in our people, we can't stop investing in research and development, we can't stop investing in infrastructure."

(Writing by Caren Bohan and Alister Bull, additional reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Vicki Allen)