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Boehner sees budget deal, no shutdown

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner signaled yesterday that a compromise is coming with Democrats on immediate cuts in government spending, noting that Democrats control the White House and the other half of Congress. Boehner said Republicans are fighting for the biggest spending cuts they can get.

Boehner said there's no agreement yet on how much he and Democrats are willing to compromise in cutting the day-to-day budgets of federal agencies over the coming six months. The GOP House has voted to cut more than $60 billion from this year's budget, and Democrats have been moving steadily in his direction.

The Ohio Republican has agreed to discuss a compromise in the $33-billion range, which would still be of historic magnitude.

"We are going to fight for all of the spending cuts that we can get," Boehner said. "We control one half of one third of the government here in Washington. We can't impose our will on another body. We can't impose our will on the Senate. All we can do is to fight for all of the spending cuts that we can get an agreement to."

The top congressional Republican spoke as negotiators continued to work on a proposal for around $33 billion in spending cuts over the next six months -- considerably less than tea party activists congregating Thursday for a rally near the Capitol have demanded. Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday evening that there's been "good progress" in budget talks to prevent a government shutdown.

The tentative split-the-difference plan would end up where GOP leaders started last month as they tried to fulfill a campaign pledge to return spending for agencies' daily operations to levels in place before President Barack Obama took office. That calculation takes into account the fact that the current budget year, which began Oct. 1, is about half over.

The $33-billion figure, confirmed by Biden, is well below the $60-billion-plus in cuts that the House passed last month. But it still represents significant movement by Senate Democrats and the administration after originally backing a freeze at current rates.

Under Biden's math, the White House is conceding $73 billion in cuts from Obama's requests, which contained increases never approved by Congress. Republicans originally wanted $100 billion.

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