Late Night Budget Talks Fail to Break Stalemate

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Washington power brokers are still trying to hammer out a last-minute budget deal and avoid a government shutdown.    
President Obama called congressional leaders to the White House Wednesday night for last minute budget negotiations.

"My expectation is that folks are going to work through the night," the president said.

House Democrats said they're willing to cut $33 billion from spending for the final six months for this fiscal year, while Republicans want $61 billion in cuts.

While there was slow movement toward an agreement, the late night session failed to break a stalemate over just how much spending to cut.

"I do think we made some progress. But I want to reiterate there's no agreement on a number, and there's no agreement on the policy riders," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

"I have confidence we can get this done," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. "We're not there yet, but hope lies eternal."

Should the government shut down, national parks won't open, thousands of federal workers won't get paid -- and tax refunds could be delayed.

"It has real-life consequences for people like my family," one government worker said.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of a government shutdown is the impact it would have on military personnel.

Speaking before 200 soldiers at the U.S. Division-Central headquarters in Baghdad, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates explained that if a shutdown began April 8 and lasted a week, troops would receive half of a paycheck. Soldiers would not receive a paycheck if the shutdown lasted from April 15-30.

Still, Gates assured service members that they would eventually receive their back pay.

"When I start to think about the inconvenience that it's going to cause these kids, and a lot of their families - even half a paycheck delayed can be a problem for them," Gates said. "So I hope they work this whole thing out."

In deference to the nation's fighting men and women, House Republicans are moving ahead with plans for an emergency stop-gap measure that would extend military funding. But Democrats don't want to give up that leverage and are expected to oppose the plan.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans want their legislators to compromise - even if that means passing a budget they disagree with.

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Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at