After months of feeling bullied by Republicans, the White House hit back Friday on year-end spending bills, warning that the GOP risks another embarrassing government shutdown crisis if it doesn’t come to terms with a package that President Barack Obama can sign.
“I hope that Congress makes the decision to get the work done, do it in a way that the president can sign and not to kind of flirt with the disaster scenario and the risk of government shutdown,” White House Budget Director Jack Lew told reporters. “The president is quite insistent and will not sign a bill that doesn’t meet the standards that he has laid out.”
Going into what promises to be a long weekend of negotiations, Lew’s comments appeared aimed most at conservatives who have sought to use the massive appropriations bill as a vehicle to advance legislative riders impacting administration policy. Such provisions are a source of tension between any Congress and the White House—whatever party is in power. But with an eye toward 2012 and his liberal base, Obama appears to be digging in more now after the beating he took for seeming too conciliatory in talks with the GOP last spring and summer.
“I haven’t seen the clear movement away from the riders that we’re going to need to see,” Lew said, pointing to the Dec. 16 deadline when funding for most of the government runs out. “I don’t think the signal has been sent that it’s time to drop the extreme provisions. “
“We are being crystal clear,” Lew said. “I don’t think it’s in the interest of the country to have an unnecessary crisis but it’s also not in the interest of the country to allow an appropriations bill to become a vehicle for doing things that are harmful to the country and which don’t belong on an appropriations bill.”
“What’s important here is getting it done and getting it done right,” Lew said. “The president is not going to be in a place where he’s comfortable saying everyone can go home for the holidays if this isn’t done.”
“I think it’s important that the things we say privately be understood because …there should be no miscalculation about the intensity of his feelings.”
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