Budget Battle Came Down To 3 Men and Their Weaknesses
||Washington Post (DC)
||Saturday, April 9, 2011
||Paul Kane, Perry Bacon Jr. and David A. Fahrenthol
As the stalemate dragged on into Thursday night, President Obama summoned both Reid and Boehner to the White House. All week, Obama had sought to appear as Washington’s peacemaker, not as a partisan warrior on the Democratic side.
But there was a problem: Boehner wouldn’t give in and make peace.
With almost 24 hours to go until the government shut down, Obama gave Boehner an ultimatum on the speaker’s push to include abortion-related restrictions in the bill.
“John, I will give you D.C. abortion. I am not happy about it,” Obama said, according to a Democrat and Republican in the Oval Office. Boehner had been pushing to include both the restriction of government funding on abortions in the District of Columbia and a provision that would have placed limits on funds going to nonprofit groups that provide abortion services nationwide, including Planned Parenthood.
With the D.C. provision in hand, Boehner continued to push the president, aides said.
“Nope, zero,” Obama told Boehner. “Nope, zero. John, this is it.”
And that was it — for a little while. Later, White House aides said, Boehner returned to the issue. Evidently, he had pushed Biden too far.
If Republicans didn’t buckle on this provision, an angry Biden warned, “We’re going to have to take it to the American people.”
Nonetheless, they were close to agreeing to a dollar amount, or so the White House thought. By the next morning, though, White House aides said Boehner’s staff appeared to be asking for more cuts.
So Obama called Boehner. Where Biden had been threatening, Obama tried to appeal to Boehner’s sense of responsibility.
“I am the president of the United States and you are the speaker of the House. We are the two most consequential leaders in the U.S. government. We had a discussion last night and the staff negotiations don’t reflect that,” Obama told Boehner, according to White House staffers.
“The president believed Speaker Boehner was always there,” in understanding the gravity of the situation, a senior Obama aide explained. Boehner “did not want this to come to a shutdown.”
They had finally reached a deal: Boehner dropped his demand to take Planned Parenthood’s funds. In return, he got $78 billion in spending cuts — the $38 billion in cuts from last week’s deal, plus $40 billion in increases to agency budgets proposed by Obama that were never agreed to. And he got the D.C. abortion provision Obama had offered the night before.
Later, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray expressed outrage.
“The District of Columbia’s right to govern itself has, once again, been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency,” Gray said in a statement afterward. “This is ludicrous. .?.?.Hypocrisy is alive and well in the United States Congress.”
Calls went out. In the basement, Boehner was handed a slip of paper.
“There’s a deal!” he said. The room cheered.
Read the full article by clicking the link below: