WASHINGTON — Battle lines over steep federal spending reductions hardened Sunday even as congressional leaders maintained that both Democrats and Republicans want to avoid a political impasse that could lead to a government shutdown in a matter of weeks.
Lawmakers fanned out to their home states after the Republican-led House approved more than $60 billion in reductions for 2011, the deepest spending cuts in generations. Virtually no domestic program would be spared.
Democrats have rejected the legislation as too severe, warning that as many as 800,000 jobs could be lost by making such reductions in the remaining seven months of the fiscal year and harm the nation’s fragile economic recovery. Instead, they propose a spending freeze, which Republicans reject..
With political leaders deadlocked, both sides are positioning the other for blame in the event the stalemate cannot be broken. After the the pre-dawn budget cut vote in the House Saturday, lawmakers left Washington for a weeklong recess, leaving only a matter of days to resolve the issue before the current funding mechanism expires March 4.