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Political Notebook

Cantor says time is up on budget

House majority leader Eric Cantor said Democrats must offer more significant spending cuts. House majority leader Eric Cantor said Democrats must offer more significant spending cuts. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
March 30, 2011

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WASHINGTON — The number 2 Republican in the House said yesterday that the chamber will not 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.

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, said “time is up’’ and that it is up to Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate to offer more 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 only 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 movement rebellion, have pulled back from a near-agreement on an overall figure for spending cuts that would slash President Obama’s budget requests for the current year by $70 billion or more.

Republicans say that Democrats have yet to offer sizable enough cuts and that some of the many conservative nonspending policy measures 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.

— Associated Press

Lawyers cleared in voting rights case WASHINGTON — Justice Department investigators say they have found no evidence of politics when department lawyers dismissed three defendants from a voting rights lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party.

In a letter yesterday to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Lamar Smith, the department says that its attorneys acted appropriately and did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in their supervisory duties. The department investigated complaints that New Black Panther Party leaders intimidated white voters at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day in 2008.

Two lawyers who formerly worked in the department’s Voting Rights section have described what they called hostility from senior officials and career attorneys to pursuing accusations under the Voting Rights Act of minorities harassing white voters.

— Associated Press

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