House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) says it's not Republicans who are talking about a potential government shutdown in March.
Cantor says it's the Democrats.
"Every time we talk about a spending cut, (Sen.) Chuck Schumer, (Senate Majority Whip) Dick Durbin and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid yell ‘shutdown,'" said an exasperated Cantor. "We ought to get that off the table."
Whispers of a potential government shutdown have permeated the halls of Congress for weeks as lawmakers embark on passing a bill known as a Continuing Resolution, or CR, to fund the government through fall. The current measure expires March 4. If Congress and the White House failed to come to an agreement on funding, the government would shut down.
The House of Representatives is poised to begin debating its outline for funding the government through the end of September on Tuesday. That measure plans to strike $100 billion from what President Obama proposed the government spend this fiscal year. But even if the House does okay a package that reduces spending, lawmakers will still have to match the House's action with what the Senate could do next week. And whether or not President Obama could sign a bill with significant cuts is a different matter.
Cantor asserted that the bill simply dials back spending to 2008 levels. And the Virginia Republican says people shouldn't fret.
"The sun rose and set in 2008," said Cantor in defense of the spending target.
On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton lunched at the Capitol with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Clinton used the meeting to implore Boehner to reduce what she calls a 16 percent cut for the State Department and the U.S Agency for International Development.
"We cannot recede from our presence in the world," Clinton said after the meeting. "I'm hoping we'll be given the tools we need."
Clinton sent a letter to the man in charge of cutting the spending, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY).
"The cuts you have proposed are far too deep to meet our critical national security requirements," Clinton said to Rogers in the letter.
For his part, Cantor was sympathetic to Clinton's plea. But added that if Congress was going to shave spending, there had to be shared sacrifice.
"There are going to be a lot of constituencies and a lot of secretaries who don't believe in the CR proposal," Cantor said.