Axelrod, Kirk weigh in on possibility of government shutdown

April 8, 2011

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said Friday he expects Congress to reach an agreement over the federal budget before the end of the day. Legislative leaders have until midnight tonight to pass a budget or else they face a government shutdown. Some of the debate centers on whether the government should cut funding to agencies that provide abortions or protect the environment.

Senator Kirk said that debate is not central to the issue.

"I think the central goal here is to reduce spending," Kirk said. "We are largely achieving that and that should lead to a succesful outcome of the negotiations with no government shutdown next week."

Kirk said he has not come up with a plan to cut the budget of his own senate office because he's certain legislative leaders will work out an agreement before the end of the day, although he did cut his office budget by 15 percent when he was first sworn in. He also said he expects there are members of Congress who lean far to the left and the right, who are not likely to go along with a compromise.

Meanwhile, one of President Barack Obama's former top aides says the debate over the federal budget is focused too much on political differences.

"The differences, as I understand it, aren't that great," said David Axelrod, who is leading Mr. Obama's re-election campaign, which is based in Chicago. "The president has been more than willing to meet the Republicans on this more than halfway and where this is bogging down is, sort of, in ideology."

Axelrod talked with reporters Thursday. He said a government shutdown would hurt the economy.