Cantor confident government shutdown can be avoided

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) expressed confidence Monday that Democrats and Republicans can avoid brinksmanship that would threaten another government shutdown as the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Cantor said Republicans will introduce a continuing resolution that would provide enough funding to keep government running through mid-to-late fall, gearing spending levels toward those agreed to when Congress passed its last continuing resolution in April.

Acknowledging Americans’ disgust with Washington gridlock, Cantor promised there would be little rancor over the measure, unlike in April when partisan bickering over a similar measure brought the government within hours of a shutdown.

“We would try, always, to go lower,” Cantor told reporters Monday. “But I think the risk of bringing about brinksmanship or the risk of another shutdown is not something that we need. It’s not something that would be helpful to create jobs or regain confidence.”

Without a continuing resolution, government would be forced to shut down at the end of the month. The resolution would provide funding to last for a few weeks, providing Congress time to continue negotiations over spending levels for fiscal year 2012.

Cantor said Republicans are still discussing whether to attach policy riders to the resolution that would draw Democratic opposition--like restrictions on funding for Planned Parenthood--that have been a part of GOP spending measures in the past.

But he said they are eager to avoid a contentious debate over the bill.

“We want to make sure we stay focused on resolving the two crises our nation is facing--that is the federal debt crisis as well as the jobs crisis and how to grow jobs,” he said.

His comments came as House Appropriations Chairman Hal Roger (R-Ky.) announced he plans to include funding for the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Disaster Relief Fund in the continuing resolution, potentially resolving what had threatened to be a politically troublesome issue of disaster funding.

Thousands of homes and businesses, as well as basic infrastructure, have been damaged by Mother Nature over the last year, and it is the duty of my Committee and this Congress to ensure that the federal government is providing the relief and recovery that our people are relying on,” Rogers said in a statement.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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