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Side issues may delay budget deal

April 03, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

While California’s faltering budget process is capturing headlines, the federal government is nearing as tipping point. Republicans and Democrats are locking horns over spending cuts as a temporary extension of the federal budget is set to expire April 8.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said the problem is as much Republican vs. Republican as it is between the two major parties.

“We’re still far apart because even if (House Speaker John) Boehner wants to make a deal, he’s got to curry favor with the most extreme members in his caucus,” Sherman said, adding that symbolic side issues are waylaying substantive discussions. “There are people Boehner has to deal with that would shut down the government over the issue of whether any money goes to Planned Parenthood.”

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Details of President Obama’s new compromise plan of $33 billion cuts — a little more than half of what Republicans seek — are just now emerging. Sherman said he is prepared to “swallow hard” and accept deeper cuts than he’d like to see.

“We’ve got to keep the country going,” he said, adding that “government is substantially less efficient when you try to run it two weeks at a time.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) noted that the compromise involves “a lot of cuts to a very small piece of the government — discretionary domestic spending.”

Lawmakers will avoid a shutdown, he said, “though it’s still hard to see how we’ll bridge the gap between Senate and House Democrats and House Republicans. But we have to get to yes, because the costs of not doing so is just too high.”

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Maro Kechichian of Burbank and Maureen Walsh of Glendale are among Rep. Adam Schiff’s “Women of the Year.” Last week at a Pasadena ceremony, Schiff (D-Burbank) honored one women from each of the nine cities he represents.

Kechichian, a native of Lebanon, brought her teaching skills from Beirut to Burbank in 1984. She has long been a prominent figure in the Los Angeles Chapter of the charitable agency Homenetmen, and in 1990 was asked to establish a Homenetmen effort in Armenia, according to Schiff’s office. She serves as executive secretary at the Armenian Relief Society of the Western Region.

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