Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Congressional budget negotiations are stuck in neutral again, officials say, increasing the odds of a government shutdown in early April. The nation’s current spending bill expires April 8. Sources say Senate Democrats want to put entitlements like Medicare on the table, but Republicans, under heavy pressure from the Tea Party, have balked, opting instead for cuts in discretionary spending programs. “A deal is still possible, but it would take a real breakthrough,” said one senior official. Apparently the two sides can’t even agree on where to start—using the current stopgap spending bill as a template or the package that the GOP-led House has already passed, which would cut $61 billion.
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