As Clock Ticks, Can Gov't Shutdown be Avoided?

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WASHINGTON -- Senior negotiators on Capitol Hill worked all Wednesday night and through the day Thursday on negotiations to close a deal on a federal budget and avoid a government shutdown.

But the clock's ticking down. They've got just one day to figure it out or the government will shut down.

For politicos and news junkies, the latest in the twists and turns in the ongoing budget negotiations on Capitol Hill are better than a new box office thriller.

"Why are we still talking about a shutdown?" asked Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

But for some, the suspense is agonizing. This is especially true for the estimated 800,000 government workers who might not get paid.

"I work for the federal government. I will be affected by it. I want to be at work. I want to do my job," one government worker said. "I'm being prohibited from doing that if it happens."

The scenario is potentially far-reaching, impacting people way outside of the Washington beltway.

During a recent trip to Baghdad, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told U.S. military personnel about what will happen to their military pay in the event of a government shutdown.

"If the government shuts down starts on the 8th and goes for a week, you'd get a half a check," he said.

As for the deal brokers, all appear to agree that they want to avoid a shutdown.

"Our goal here is to cut spending not shutdown government," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

After back-and-forth negotiations and a late night White House meeting, both sides acknowledged progress.

But the morning after, it was a different story.

"I am not nearly as optimistic, and that's an understatement, as I was 11 hours ago," Senate Majority Leader Harry Read, D-Nev., said.

The stalled talks prompted President Obama to call the two top negotiators back to the Oval Office Thursday.

Democrats say the breakdown has less to do with numbers and more to do with policy. They've taken a stand against riders attached to the stopgap budget bill, which would cut funding for things like National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood.

Democrats have accused Republicans of playing politics and pandering to the Tea Party, whose members want deeper cuts. Many Tea Party members support a shutdown.

But Republicans say Democrats shouldn't be pointing fingers.

"If a shutdown does occur, our Democratic friends have no one to blame but themselves," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Speaker Boehner said Republicans have a bill that will fund the government for another seven days and cut $12 billion in spending.

The question is, whether he can find enough Republicans and Democrats willing to pass it.

CBN News spoke with two House Republicans who say they won't support another stopgap measure unless spending cuts are increased.

President Obama has also threatened to veto a one-week resolution to keep the government open, saying it reduces confidence in the economy and would stunt the slow gains the country has made in rebounding from the recession.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at