White House 'Pleased' With Funding Extension But Wants Longer-Term Deal
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said it was "pleased" that Republicans and Democrats on the Hill may have temporarily averted a government shutdown by informally agreeing on a funding measure to keep operations and negotiations going until March 18.
But in an off-camera briefing on Monday morning, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president and his chief economists ultimately want a longer-term budget, not a biweekly fight over a series of short-term extensions.
"What we believe is that if we keep returning to this process every few weeks, that would be bad for the economy, because it creates some uncertainty," Carney said. "We are pleased that there seems to be some progress and that we are moving in the right direction."
Carney said the White House is looking for a budget bill by March 18 that will keep the government running through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. He declined, however, to discuss specific economic problems the administration foresees from repeated stopgap budget deals, or how many it considers to be too many.
"I would just say that the effect of not knowing whether or not the government will be operating can be felt in a number of different ways," he said. "I'm not predicting that will happen, I'm just saying we think it would not be a positive thing to happen to the economy."
The White House's preemptive alarm-sounding puts a bit of a damper on the generally optimistic news coming from the Hill. With the short-term resolution, Senate Democrats and House Republicans are effectively granting themselves two more weeks to talk beyond March 4, when government funds are currently set to run out.
But the late-hour agreements and legislative incrementalism never seemed stable. And with the White House, which has been loathe to engage in the debate, pushing for a longer-term resolution, the parties will likely veer back into more hotly-contested negotiations.