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The Nation

April 7, 2011

GOP prepares 1-week extension as shutdown looms

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Boehner's move appeared aimed at shifting political blame if a shutdown occurs, but the announcement of Thursday's vote angered Democrats who felt talks were progressing.

Democrats also said privately that the White House was infuriated after Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas — the No. 4 House Republican — accused Obama of leaving the talks to focus on his reelection campaign in official appearances in Pennsylvania and New York City.

Obama had already ruled out the weeklong measure Republicans intend to push through the House, and Senate Democrats have labeled it a non-starter. Republican officials said the details of the bill could yet change. But passage of any interim measure is designed to place the onus on the Democratic-controlled Senate to act if a shutdown is to be avoided.

At issue is legislation needed to keep the day-to-day operations of federal agencies going through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. A Democratic-led Congress failed to complete the must-pass spending bills last year, setting the stage for Republicans assuming power in the House in January to pass a measure with $61 billion in cuts that even some GOP appropriators saw as unworkable. It was rejected in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Separately Wednesday, the White House used its unmatched megaphone to emphasize the stakes involved in the negotiations, arranging a briefing for the presidential press corps on the ramifications of a partial government shutdown.

The officials who spoke did so on condition of anonymity, under rules set by White House aides eager to apply pressure to congressional negotiators.

The officials said military personnel at home and abroad would receive one week's pay instead of two in their next checks. Among those affected would be troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the region around Libya.

Tax audits would be suspended — welcome news to some, no doubt — but there were unhappy tidings for others. Income tax returns filed on paper would pile up at the IRS, and refunds would be delayed as a result.

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