Washington (AP) -
The No. 2 Republican in the House said Tuesday that the chamber won't pass another short-term federal funding bill to avert a government shutdown if talks between the GOP and the White House fail to produce a 2011 spending agreement by an April 8 deadline.
Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia said "time is up" and that it's up to Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate to offer significant spending cuts as part of legislation to fund the government for the rest of the budget year.
"We're going to need to see a deal struck where our members can go home and tell their constituents that we're doing what we said we would do," Cantor said.
Cantor's remarks to reporters suggest that Republicans could advance a stopgap bill if an agreement is struck between Democrats and the White House that would need time to draft into legislation and pass through House and Senate.
Talks have mostly broken down, however, and the combatants are instead casting blame in a daily back-and-forth public relations battle. Democrats say that GOP leaders, fearing a tea-party rebellion, have pulled back from a near-agreement on an overall figure for spending cuts that would slash President Barack Obama's budget requests for the current year by $70 billion or more.
Republicans say Democrats have yet to offer sizable enough cuts and that some of the many conservative policy additions added in floor debate last month must be included in a final agreement.
Current stopgap funding runs out April 8 and failure to act would precipitate a partial shutdown of every government agency, though essential workers such as military troops, FBI agents, homeland security workers and many others would remain on the job.
Cantor's comments signal that such a shutdown is increasingly likely next Friday unless the pace of negotiations accelerates sharply.