Lawmakers will return to Washington this week under pressure to reach a deal on federal spending levels by Friday, or face a government shutdown. But Speaker of the House John Boehner on Sunday night will stress that a shutdown will not be necessary.
"We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face," the Ohio Republican will say in a speech to religious broadcasters, according to text released by his office. "That means working together to cut spending and rein in government - NOT shutting it down."
House Republicans on Friday proposed a temporary plan to keep the government running for two weeks after the March 4 deadline, with more modest spending cuts than their long-term proposal. The short-term plan will allow the Senate additional time to consider a full-length spending bill of its own.
"This is very simple: Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money. We don't need to shut down the government to accomplish that," Boehner will say of the plan, which is bound for the House floor Tuesday. "We just need to do what the American people are asking of us."
Some Senate Democrats have signaled they may be willing to work with Republicans on the short-term plan, but Boehner on Sunday night will stress that the potential compromise doesn't mean Republicans are finished calling for wide-ranging spending cuts.
Mandatory spending programs and taxpayer funding for abortion will be on the chopping block in the coming months, the Speaker promises.
And Republicans will also plan to "specifically deal with entitlement reform," - an undertaking the Obama Administration has said should be tackled separately from other budget matters. "To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure." Boehner will say.