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Congress: The clock is ticking

On the budget negotiations, a top House GOP aide was critical of Democrats’ handling of the situation, NBC’s Luke Russert reports. "It’s hard to get a straight answer from Democrats these days because their position changes almost daily, depending on whether you talk to the White House or Senate Democrats. First they didn’t believe one dime in spending could be cut. Then they relented and agreed to cut $10 billion after Republicans forced the issue. Then Democrats said they could offer $11 billion more, but most of it was gimmicks.  And suddenly days later they say they can offer $20 billion, but they won’t share it with anyone. Republicans have passed a credible plan; it’s called H.R. 1. Where is the Democrats’ bill, and where is their plan? Americans have a right to know."

The aide said that will be the House GOP leadership’s message. House Speaker Boehner and leadership will hold a news conference at 4:00 pm ET for what they say is "inaction" on the budget.

To that point, AP writes, "With the clock ticking toward a possible shutdown April 8, Democrats have prepared a proposal to cut $20 billion more from this year’s budget, a party official said, but they have not yet sent it to House Republicans. That’s because they say it’s unclear whether the Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, would accept a split-the-difference bargain or will yield to demands of GOP freshmen, many backed by the Tea Party movement, for a tougher measure."

"Democrats are deploying a divide-and-conquer strategy in their negotiations with House Republicans over spending cuts," The Hill reports. "After being put back on their heels earlier in the budget message battle, Senate Democrats are now trying to drive a wedge between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Tea Party freshmen."

"As the White House prepared an offer to cut an additional $20 billion to end the budget stalemate on Capitol Hill, House and Senate leaders ramped up their rhetoric over who would bear the blame if the government shuts down," Roll Call writes.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) delivers the keynote speech at the National Journal Insiders Conference at this morning. He will talk about Democrats’ "Make It In America agenda" and will announce items Democrats will introduce, including his bill on promoting job-training partnerships. "Democrats’ overwhelming priority in the 112th Congress is job creation," he will say per prepared remarks shared with First Read. "[I]t’s surprising and disappointing that, almost three months into this new Congress, Republicans have failed to even propose a single job-creating bill."