What’s the Deal?

by Andrew Stiles

A cloud of ambiguity continues to hang over the ongoing budget talks. Vice President Joe Biden announced last night that House Republicans and Senate Democrats are “working off the same number” regarding the amount of spending cuts to be included in a continuing resolution to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, but that contentious negations continue over the substance of the cuts.

As Bob reports below, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) says “there is no agreement on a set of numbers,” and his spokesman Michael Steel tells NRO: “The Vice President simply hasn’t been at the table.”

As Dan point out here, some GOP insiders smell a set-up, which seems perfectly logical in the context of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s concerted efforts to shut down the government and blame it on Republicans.

One GOP aide on the House Appropriations Committee, the staff of which is currently negotiating the terms of a potential CR with its counterpart in the Senate, tells NRO that they can’t confirm a specific number, but tellingly reminds us: “Chairman Rogers has said that he wouldn’t begin negotiations unless he was given a negotiated target number from our leadership.”

Even if a specific number has been agreed to, it is fair to say (as both sides readily admit) negotiators have a lot of ground to make up before a final deal, if possible, can be finalized. They have until April 8.

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