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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boehner and the Budget

President Obama met today with House Speaker John Boehner on budget negotiations.

There were no clear cut concessions between the two. The president remarked during the White House press briefing.

The president said he was more than willing to work with Republicans, but the Republicans bawked at an earlier agreement set by the two parties.

The president explained that Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers' called for $73b in cuts. "We have agreed to $73b in cuts", said Obama, (among them Pell Grants for college students).  President Obama announced that the Republicans have expressed they don't like the cuts currently proposed.

"Nobody gets 100% of what they want, but the American people should get the sense that somebody is worried about them. I want to get the business of the American people done", the President said.

With the threat of various government agencies shutting down, the powers that be did agree last month to extend operations through this Friday, April 8th.   Time is running out.
"I can't have our various agencies .... making decisions based on two-week at-a-time budgets. We are now at a point where there is no excuse to extend this any further", the president said.

Because of Senate rules, Democrats could be forced to break two GOP filibusters in order to pass a spending bill if no agreement has been reached by Friday.

"We don't have time for games... We can't have a my way, or the highway approach."



Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today issued the following statement in response to language in the House Republican’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution to eliminate funding for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program in order to offset, by means-testing, the cost of the Republican D.C. private school voucher bill, which passed the House last week:

“The Republicans insisted on putting their D.C. private school voucher bill on the floor last week without paying for it. Their new budget would sacrifice thousands of D.C. college students to pay for a smaller number of private school voucher students in the District of Columbia, effectively killing DCTAG. Fortunately, a budget resolution is not a bill, but almost certainly the Republican appropriators will place this proposal in next year’s appropriations bill. If so, money would be taken from a publically funded program to pay for private elementary and secondary school tuition.

“Congress passed DCTAG, pressed by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, to replicate a state university system all of which offer many varieties of two- and four- year public institutions. For example, Maryland and Virginia each have more than 30 public institutions. The District has only one public university, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), and it recently created a much-needed community college. However, UDC is not a state university system like those in the 50 states.

“Three times as many students have used DCTAG than private school vouchers. Means-testing DCTAG would actually raise tuition for many of these voucher students and make DCTAG inaccessible for them upon graduating from their private voucher program. It must be remembered that DCTAG pays only for tuition and not room and board. DCTAG is indispensible to education in this city, where virtually all decent jobs require some college education. The program has doubled college attendance here, and unlike vouchers, it has always had support from Republican and Democratic presidents, all of whom placed the program in their own budgets, and was created with bi-partisan sponsorship in both chambers. It is disgraceful that Republicans violated their own promise to cut spending by adding $300 million to deficit with the D.C. voucher bill. It is worse that they now propose to rob Peter to pay Paul."

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