Washington Extra – This just might stink

By Mary Milliken

WASHINGTON, April 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress cannot
ignore the political losses that might run into the 2012
elections from failing to get a budget deal tonight. A running
poll of readers on reuters.com shows 60 percent would blame
Republicans more for a government shutdown, 22 percent would
blame Democrats and 18 percent say both parties, equally.

In the blame game, however, Republicans have a powerful
point: when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress just
months ago, they could have approved the current year budget.
The Democrats started this mess, they say. President Barack
Obama will lose face if he can’t stop it.

But all eyes are on House Speaker John Boehner in his first
real test as the supreme Republican leader. A hard-fought deal
in the 11th hour could cement his leadership in the party. A
shutdown could earn him street cred with vocal, vote-heavy Tea
Partiers who want him to hold firm on spending cuts.

In the event of a shutdown, Boehner might also get street
crud. Garbage will not be collected in the District of Columbia
and nearly 7,000 residents have joined a Facebook campaign
titled “If Boehner shuts down the government I am taking my
trash to his house.”

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Here are our top stories from Washington:

With no US budget deal, government shutdown looms

With a midnight deadline looming, the White House and
Congress scrambled to break a budget impasse that threatens to
shut down the government and idle hundreds of thousands of
federal workers. Democrats said the two sides were at odds over
federal funding for birth control. Republicans said spending
cuts were the issue. [ID:nN08144565]

Veteran of 1995 U.S. shutdown says don’t repeat

The official who carried out the last government shutdown
has a warning for squabbling lawmakers — another one now could
be disastrous for the economy. John Koskinen said failure to
reach a budget deal could plunge the United States back into
recession. “Things are very different today than they were in
1995,” Koskinen, a former deputy director at the White House
OMB, told Reuters. [ID:nN08261226]

Shutdown would lay off astronauts, close parks

Garbage will pile up in the streets of the capital, the
Statue of Liberty will close and astronauts will stay home if
the Congress fails to reach a budget deal and the government
shuts down. Government services deemed nonessential run out of
funding at midnight without an agreement on spending for the
rest of the fiscal year. If lawmakers cannot break the logjam,
some 800,000 employees will be sent home without pay when
federal agencies close indefinitely. [ID:nN08303468]

US says cannot predict how Mideast revolts play out

The United States said it was impossible to predict whether
democratic upheavals in the Middle East would take root, noting
in its annual rights report that Egypt has yet to end its state
of emergency. The spread of camera-enabled phones and online
video has amplified democratic protests around the world but
also produced a government backlash seeking a tighter grip on
information flows, the State Department said. [ID:nN08257620]

U.S. sanctions 5 senior Libyan govt officials

The United States tightened financial pressure on Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi, adding five senior government officials
and two entities controlled by Gaddafi’s children to its
sanctions blacklist. The Treasury Department said it added
Libya’s prime minister, Ali al-Mahmoudi Al Baghdadi, and
Gaddafi’s chief of staff, Bashir Salehand, to the sanctions
blacklist. The sanctions, now against 19 individuals, prohibit
transactions with them and seek to freeze any assets they may
have under U.S. jurisdiction. [ID:nN08215169]

USDA aims to boost sales of high-blend ethanol

The Obama administration will provide incentives to gas
stations to install more pumps with a higher blend of ethanol
in an effort to boost consumption of the renewable fuel.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the administration hoped
to install 10,000 flexible fuel pumps nationwide in the next
five years. [ID:nN08231838]

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit
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http://blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/

Washington Extra – This just might stink