Schumer Warns House Republicans to Avoid Shutdown
Updated: 1:17 p.m.
Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) accused the new Republican majority in the House on Sunday of risking a government shutdown as the expiration of a stopgap spending measure approaches.
The continuing resolution expires March 4, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said last week that the chamber will consider another on the week of Feb. 14. That measure is expected to include steep cuts that reflect pledges made by Republicans before November’s midterm elections.
Speaker John Boehner said on “Fox News Sunday” that he would like to see non-defense discretionary spending return to 2008 levels, but he didn’t specifically outline where cuts would be made. Details would be available in the upcoming spending bill, the Ohio Republican said.
“There’s no limit to the amount of spending we’re willing to cut,” he added.
New White House Chief of Staff William Daley pointed Sunday to President Barack Obama’s proposal to freeze domestic discretionary spending for five years as a “substantial” plan. But he declined to give specifics, saying they would become public when the president presents his budget in February, Daley said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Boehner did not address the possibility of a government shutdown resulting from a standoff over the spending cuts, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was repeatedly asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether a shutdown is on the table.
“We have two opportunities, both the Congressional resolution and the debt ceiling, to try to accomplish something on a bipartisan basis on both our short-term debt and our long-term unfunded liabilities,” the Kentucky Republican responded.
Schumer pleaded with GOP lawmakers in the House to avoid a shutdown.
“It seems that a lot of Republicans in the House want to risk a shutdown of the government if they don’t absolutely get their way,” Schumer said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That was a mistake when Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995, it’ll be a bigger mistake now.”
A shutdown would disrupt military funding and programs that Americans count on, such as Social Security, and it could risk stability in credit markets, he said.
“If they feel that people are willing to shut down the government, you could risk the credit markets really losing some confidence in the United States Treasury, and that could create a deeper recession than we had over the last several years, God forbid, even a depression,” Schumer added.
“What government is all about is having strongly held views but, when not everyone agrees with you, coming to a reasonable position,” he said. “We can come to a reasonable agreement that curbs spending.”
Schumer concluded, “But to just stay in your corner and say, ‘It’s my way or I’m shutting down the government,’ that could lead to terrible, terrible problems, and I would plead with my new Republican colleagues in the House who seem to want to do this that that’s playing with fire, please don’t do it.”
Alison McSherry contributed to this report.