LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the potential for a shutdown of the federal government outrageous and accused House Republicans of being very irresponsible.

Villaraigosa and several city council members said a shutdown would affect the public and, indirectly, Los Angeles city government.

“I can’t tell you that it will have an immediate impact, but it will have an impact,” Villaraigosa said. “Even if it’s not on the budget, it will be on the people of Los Angeles.”

President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., met at the White House in an attempt to reach an agreement to avoid a shutdown that would occur if both houses of Congress and Obama do not approve a new spending plan by Friday.

Obama described the meeting as productive and constructive.

“What they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Obama told reporters. “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.”

Obama said he would speak with Boehner and Reid’s staffs Thursday.

“If we haven’t made progress, we’re going to go back at it again,” Obama said. “We’re going to keep on pounding away at this thing because I’m absolutely convinced we can get this done.”

Boehner said in February that the “Republicans goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government, not shut it down.”

The House Republican leadership introduced a continuing resolution Tuesday that would keep the federal government running for another week, funds the Department of Defense through September and cuts an additional $12 billion in spending.

City Councilman Bernard Parks, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, agreed that city government would be affected to the extent that it is forced to deal with the fallout of Los Angeles County and individuals not receiving federal assistance on time.

“(The city) is going to absorb what they (the federal government) don’t fund,” Parks said.

“So if you look up one day and things aren’t funded, and people are acting out in the city because they didn’t get their funding, or they can’t pay rent and they’re on the street, we’re going to get the end result of that.”

Councilman Greig Smith said the actual affect on city operations and finances would likely be negligible. He said critical services and issuing of checks would likely continue.

“Historically, when these happen, they find a way to solve it over the weekend, so they’re very short term,” Smith said. “It’s a game of chicken going on in Washington.”

Villaraigosa and the City Administrative Office said they’re concerned about the budget that does ultimately pass and how it will impact the budget Villaraigosa plans to propose April 20.

“We’re waiting to see what gets hit and to what extent,” said Assistant City Administrative Officer Ray Ciranna. “We’re still with a number of questions and no answers.”

Villaraigosa, a Democrat, said one version of the House Republicans budget proposal would have a $560 million impact on the city.

The proposal Villaraigosa referred to cut $42 million in Workforce Investment Act funds, which the city uses for job training and to help small businesses avoid layoffs. According to data provided by the mayor’s office, it would affect about 170,000 residents.

The proposal would also cut almost $50 million in block grants, which are used to provide social services to low-income residents of the city; would cut almost $15 million used to increase security at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach; and nearly $100 million in homelessness prevention programs.

Boehner said last month that federal budget cuts will create jobs.

“To help our economy get back to creating jobs, we need to reduce uncertainty for small businesses in America and that cannot happen until we reverse the spending binge that has been going on in Washington,” Boehner said March 15 in connection with the release of a study by Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee that showed cutting government spending significantly will support private sector job creation.

“As this new study shows, the spending binge in Washington has hurt job creation and cutting spending will reduce uncertainty and encourage businesses to make investments that create jobs.”

By Richie Duchon | City News Service