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GOP Argument on Budget Stall: Blame Harry Reid

5:00 PM, Apr 1, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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The top Republicans in each house of Congress are making the case, in their respective ways, that the holdout on passing a budget for Fiscal Year 2011 is Harry Reid and the Democratic majority in the Senate. Politico reports on the John Boehner strategy:

House Speaker John Boehner appeared in front of reporters and television cameras for a fourth straight day, an unusual move for Boehner, to say that he has not agreed to any compromise to prevent a shutdown on April 8 —just seven days away.

“The House acted, we passed a bill,” Boehner said. “We’ve put our plan out there, it’s been out there for 41 days. It’s pretty clear to us what our plan us, but is unclear is what the Senate plan is.”...

With negotiations being hashed out behind closed doors, Boehner has unified his conference around a theme that the Senate is to blame in this stalemate. He told freshmen at a meeting Thursday that the talk has worked to his strategic advantage in the negotiations, urging the band of conservative newbies to continue to fight together.

To that end, House Republicans took to the Senate steps for a third consecutive day to urge Reid and his upper-chamber colleagues to pass a measure to keep the government open.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, is taking a backseat and letting Boehner do the talking:

Senate Minority Leader (R-Ky.) is the consummate Washington insider — but in perhaps the most pivotal budget negotiations in more than 15 years, he’s become the invisible man.

McConnell has let the prospect of a government shutdown rest squarely on whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can cut a deal.

McConnell aides say he’s made the clear political calculation that his party’s strongest negotiating position is allowing Boehner to take the lead during the sensitive talks, perceiving that most Senate Republicans will eventually unite behind whatever plan can pass the GOP House. But if the talks break down — or if the final plan infuriates the Republican base and tea party activists — McConnell can also dodge much of the blame.

It remains to be seen if Republicans or Democrats will blink first, which one party will very likely do before the April 8 deadline on the current continuing resolution. Speaker Boehner doesn't seem to be interested in a government shutdown, as he told the Hill today, "If you shut the government down, it’ll end up costing more than
 you’ll save because you interrupt contracts – there are a lot of
 problems with the idea of shutting the government down – it is not the
 goal."

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