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Washington • With budget talks deadlocked, House Republicans readied a weeklong bill to cut spending by as much as $12 billion while averting a government shutdown threatened for Friday, officials disclosed Monday night.
The measure also would include enough money to operate the Defense Department through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, the officials added.
They said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told the rank and file in a closed-door meeting he would seek passage of the bill if it became clear it was necessary to avoid shutting the government down.
He presented the plan at the end of a day marked by increasing acrimony in negotiations involving the Obama administration, Senate Democrats and Republicans.
With little progress evident toward a bill to close out the budget year, President Barack Obama invited key lawmakers to the White House in search of a deal.
"Time is of the essence," said White House press secretary Jay Carney, announcing plans for the Tuesday meeting. "We need to get this work done."
Congress has already passed a pair of stopgap bills to keep the government in operation for a total of five weeks, with a total of $10 billion in spending cuts attached at Republican insistence.
A one-week measure that contains an additional $12 billion would presumably be reassuring to tea party-backed lawmakers who are among the most vocal in seeking to reduce the size and scope of the government.
It would also be difficult for most Democrats to support. But by including the money the Pentagon needs for the next six months, Republicans hoped to increase the pressure on them.
For Republicans, work on the spending bill was only part of an effort to emphasize a determination to cut federal spending. They also arranged to unveil a sweeping 10-year plan on Tuesday to slash deficits by a staggering $4 trillion or $5 trillion over a decade.
Even before the details of the plan became known, Democrats began attacking it.
But for the moment, the main focus was on the threat of a shutdown, the product of intense disagreement sparked by Republican demands for spending cuts.
Boehner relayed word he would attend the White House meeting, but he also emphasized in a statement that the $33 billion total often cited "is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors."
Boehner has said repeatedly he does not want a shutdown.
Yet a new public opinion poll underscored the political dilemma confronting the leader of a conservative majority swept into power with the support of tea party supporters.
Geithner issues new warning on debt limit
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is telling lawmakers that the country is only weeks away from reaching the limit on the amount of money the government can borrow.
Geithner tells congressional leaders in a letter that the country will reach the current debt limit of $14.3 trillion no later than May 16. He says he has a few options that would delay a government default on its debt. But he warns that the most time he could buy is another eight weeks, or until around July 8.
Geithner says that the longer Congress delayed raising the debt limit, the greater the risk that investors around the world will lose confidence in America's ability to meet its obligations.