US House leader eyes spending measure to avert shutdown

WASHINGTON DC, USA - House Speaker John Boehner said he expects the US government will be funded at current levels into late 2014, avoiding another disruptive shutdown ahead of November's mid-term elections.

The country's top Republican suggested that in the face of protracted congressional gridlock, it would be sensible to pass a temporary spending measure known as a "continuing resolution" to avoid a fractious political brawl over federal spending.

"It's pretty clear that the Senate hasn't done anything over the last year and a half, and I don't see them doing anything on the eve of an election, and because the Senate has passed no appropriation bills," Boehner told the Hugh Hewitt radio show Tuesday, September 2.

"So I would expect there will be a continuing resolution to fund the government from September 30th into early December."

Fiscal year 2015 begins October 1, and while the Democratically-controlled Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives reached a deal last December on a top-line budget of $1.014 trillion, Congress must pass appropriations bills dictating line-by-line spending.

Republicans and President Barack Obama's Democrats are at odds over spending; conservatives are keen on slashing the deficit by cutting some social spending while boosting defense funds, but Obama's budget proposal includes more help to low-income families and infrastructure improvement.

Last October lawmakers feuding over proposed budget cuts failed to reach agreement in time, leading to a crippling 16-day government shutdown that kept hundreds of thousands of federal employees at home and triggered a national uproar.

Some lawmakers have hinted at another shutdown showdown. This summer, as Obama announced he could take unilateral steps to legalize millions of undocumented workers, conservative lawmakers including Senator Marco Rubio threatened to use "funding mechanisms" as a way to counteract any executive action on immigration by the president.

US lawmakers return to Washington Monday after a five-week break, and will have just 10 working days to thrash out spending agreements before the new fiscal year. –