At stake in showdown over 2013 spending: a possible shutdown

By ANDY MEDICI | Last Updated:April 19, 2012

http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120419/CONGRESS03/204190305/1018/DEPARTMENTS

A showdown is brewing between the House of Representatives and the White House that, if not resolved, could lead to a government shutdown this fall.

On Wednesday, the Office of Management and Budget’s acting director Jeffrey Zients told a top House lawmaker that President Obama will veto any 2013 spending bills that cut agency budgets below levels set in last year’s Budget Control Act.

The law caps 2013 spending at $1.05 trillion. But a House-passed budget resolution caps spending at $28 billion less than that.

“Until the House of Representatives indicates it will abide by last summer’s agreement, the president will not be able to sign any appropriations bills,” Zients said in the letter to Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The House budget resolution allows only two options: Either every agency will see across-the-board cuts or some agencies will see more severe cuts to make up for adequate funding at other agencies, Zients said.

“Both approaches break last summer’s agreement, and neither is acceptable,” he said.

Congress must pass appropriations bills for all agencies before the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 or agencies will shut down nonessential functions.

Rogers will not be “deterred by hollow press releases,” according to committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing.

“This year, when appropriations bills pass both the House and the Senate, the president can choose to sign them, or else he can choose to shut down the federal government, put the American people at risk, and imperil our economic recovery,” Hing said in a statement.

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