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House Sell Begins on Next CR

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House Democrats, meanwhile, are still working at least publicly under the assumption that a long-term CR will be completed by the March 18 deadline, according to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

The Maryland Democrat said Tuesday that he believed it was irresponsible to continue to pass short-term spending measures.

“We cannot continue to fund the government on two-week extensions,” Hoyer said. “It is irresponsible. It is inefficient. It undermines confidence in the private sector and undermines morale in the public sector.”

Republicans, however, continued to dismiss Democratic complaints, arguing the blame for the protracted funding process lies with Senate Democrats and the White House.

Noting that President Barack Obama tasked Vice President Joseph Biden with leading negotiations, only to send him on an extended overseas trip, McCarthy quipped, “What do they want to do, have a [government] shutdown and wait until he comes back?”

But even if Republicans are able to muster enough support from across the aisle for a strong bipartisan showing, Senate Democrats are, at least for now, throwing cold water on the idea.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the House-passed longer-term CR as well as a Democratic alternative at 3 p.m. today. However, the next steps are still very much uncertain as both measures are expected to fail.

“I personally am opposed to more short term. We have to get the long term done. Long term is becoming short term; we’re down to about six months now,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.

“So I would hope that we can move forward on a long-term solution to the country’s problems as it relates to this. ... It’s all short term now; there is no long term,” the Nevada Democrat added.

Although Reid could change his tune in the coming days — he has long used rhetorical outbursts such as the one Tuesday as a negotiating tactic — the threat of government shutdown is something Republicans are keen to avoid.

“No, no, no, we do not want to shut down the government,” Cantor said Tuesday when asked whether that was an acceptable option.

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