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With time running short and the federal government set to shutdown after midnight on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a continuing resolution Friday morning that would extend operations for one week.
The bill, which earlier passed in the House on a party-line vote, also calls for $12 billion in additional spending cuts and a full funding of the Pentagon for the remainder of the fiscal year.
According to observers, the move is largely procedural and meant to insulate Democrats from potential fallout from public anger over an eventual shutdown. Reid, D-Nev., is not offering the bill with hopes of passage, but rather as a way to attach a substitute bill that would include no additional cuts. The substitute bill would then have to go back to the House for approval, where it is unlikely to pass the Republican majority.
Reid also said Democrats had agreed to $38 billion in cuts, which he said was close enough to the Republican figure to put a spending deal in place. However, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, disagreed, saying there wasn't a deal and spending remained an issue.
In other budget news, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman said a potential shutdown would not affect the April 18 tax filing deadline. In remarks at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Shulman said the IRS would delay processing tax returns filed on paper if a shutdown occurs, which could stall refunds for millions of taxpayers.
However, he stressed that a government shutdown would not affect processing of electronically filed returns, and it would not delay the April 18 deadline for individual income tax filing.
“File your tax returns,” Shulman said. “We’re going to be accepting returns. Electronically file. You’re not going to see any delay.”