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April 8th, 2011
09:27 PM ET

Source: Budget deadline may be pushed back one week

Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen
CNN

Washington (CNN) - Budget negotiators are working on a proposal to keep the federal government open for another week while Democratic and Republican leaders put together a broader deal, a senior Republican close to the talks told CNN Friday night.

Disputes over controversial topics like abortion - an apparent sticking point in the talks - have been "essentially resolved," the source said.

The source warned, however, that any deal is still contingent on an agreement on the final spending numbers.

A Democratic source told CNN earlier in the evening that negotiators were considering a three-day funding extension that would not include any language tied to the abortion issue.

Live blog: Latest developments on a possible shutdown

Regardless of the specifics, both the House of Representatives and the Senate need to pass a new federal funding measure by midnight to prevent a partial government shutdown.

The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama could sign another short-term funding measure if negotiations on a broader package covering the rest of the fiscal year were making progress.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Friday that he would agree to a short-term measure if there is a deal already in place on that package.

Earlier in the day, administration officials said they were optimistic about the possibility of reaching an 11th-hour budget deal with the Republicans.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Alan Silverleib • Tom Cohen
April 7th, 2011
06:15 PM ET

No deal yet as government shutdown looms

Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen
CNN

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced Thursday afternoon that negotiators had not yet been able to reach an agreement on a federal budget covering the remainder of the current fiscal year.

The two men made the announcement after emerging from a round of talks at the White House with President Barack Obama. They said they expected to resume talks later Thursday afternoon and would return to the White House for additional discussions at 7 p.m. ET.

If Congress and the White House cannot reach an agreement by midnight Friday, when the current spending authorization measure expires, parts of the government will close down.

Shortly before Reid and Boehner addressed reporters, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed a short-term government spending bill that would delay the impending shutdown by one additional week.

The measure, which passed 247-181 in a largely party-line vote, funds the Pentagon for the remainder of the current fiscal year. It would also slash federal spending, however, by another $12 billion and is strongly opposed by Democrats in both Congress and the White House because of the programs for which funding would be cut.

Reid declared the bill a "nonstarter" before it cleared the House. The White House promised a veto if it reaches Obama's desk.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Alan Silverleib • Tom Cohen
March 9th, 2011
07:46 PM ET

U.S. sends mixed signals on U.N. backing for Libya no-fly zone

Tom Cohen
CNN

Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration sent mixed signals Wednesday on its stance on a no-fly zone in Libya, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying U.N. backing was essential while White House spokesman Jay Carney left the door open to the United States acting unilaterally or in concert with NATO allies.

Some critics, as well as top Democrats such as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have called for a stronger U.S. response to the Libya violence, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone that would prevent Libyan military aircraft from attacking the Libyan people.

President Barack Obama has made clear he wants any military response to come from the international community, to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from blaming the United States for his predicament.

Clinton emphasized that point Wednesday in an interview with CBS News, saying the administration seeks to avoid "any room for anyone, including Col. Gadhafi, to say that 'This isn't about my people, this is about outsiders.' "

She noted that the British and French governments were bringing a draft resolution on international action to the United Nations, saying: "I think it's very important that there be a U.N. decision on whatever might be done."

"We believe it's important that this not be an American, or a NATO, or a European effort. It needs to be an international one," Clinton said.

Approval by the U.N. Security Council for international military intervention in Libya, including a no-fly zone, is considered unlikely due to expected opposition from China and Russia. Both countries are believed to be reluctant to set a precedent of U.N.-supported military action in an internal conflict.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics • Tom Cohen
February 9th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

White House gives Egypt a to-do list

Tom Cohen
CNN

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's spokesman listed Wednesday specific steps the Egyptian government needs to take to satisfy the demands of protesters convulsing the country.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called for expanding he negotiations with opposition groups, lifting the state of emergency and making constitutional changes to bring about democratic elections.

"We think more has to be done, and more importantly, I think the people of Egypt think more has to be done," Gibbs told reporters.

In a sign of increasing tension between the United States and Egypt over the demonstrations that began January 25, Egypt's foreign minister said in a U.S. television interview that the Obama administration should back off from pushing President Hosni Mubarak to speed up the reform process.

"When you speak about prompt, immediate, now," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told PBS "Newshour," it is "as if you are imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationship with the United States, you are imposing your will on him."

Aboul Gheit said the U.S. government should "better understand the Egyptian sensitivities and better encourage the Egyptians to move forward and to do what is required - that is my advice to you."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East • Tom Cohen
February 8th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

White House criticizes Egyptian government and vice president

Tom Cohen
CNN

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's spokesman criticized the Egyptian government on Tuesday for arresting and harassing journalists and rights activists, and called comments by Vice President Omar Suleiman that Egypt is not ready for democracy "particularly unhelpful."

The remarks by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reflected a growing U.S. dissatisfaction with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Suleiman, the intelligence officer Mubarak chose as his deputy to bring about reforms demanded by protesters who have convulsed Cairo and the Egyptian economy for more than two weeks.

In another sign of U.S. frustration with the pace of reform in Egypt, Vice President Joe Biden, in a phone call Tuesday with Suleiman, pushed for more progress, according to a White House statement.

So far, the Obama administration has been careful to call for democratic reforms in Egypt while also trying to maintain stability in a key Middle Eastern ally that is a vital Arab partner to Israel through the Camp David Accords of 1978.

With detentions, beatings and harassment of journalists and rights activists continuing, and the weekend comments by Suleiman that signaled a shaky commitment to the reforms offered by Mubarak, Gibbs made a point of directly criticizing both the vice president and the Egyptian government in a briefing with White House reporters.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East • Raw Politics • Tom Cohen