Fiscal Cloud Still Over Congress

Forget Libya, Congress is back with its very own “no-fly zone” — the 2011 budget.

Question_MarkApril Fools’ Day this Friday makes it official: The government will have come a full six months without permanent appropriations for not just domestic agencies but the Pentagon and two wars overseas. The threat of a shutdown looms greater with President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner still too hesitant or too vulnerable to embrace a deal. Yet for all the high stakes — affecting close to $1 trillion in nondefense spending over the next 10 years — the politics can be so high-school-like that it has spawned not one but two “Gangs of Six.”

A significant new White House proposal — appearing to double the $11 billion offer on the table — was being reviewed by Senate Democrats over the weekend in hopes that an agreement can still be reached with Boehner on a top-line number. But the harsh rhetoric Friday night suggests GOP leaders still fear a tea party rebellion. And the continued absence of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from the talks makes it harder to predict a final deal before the next shutdown deadline of April 8.

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Source: David Rogers | POLITICO