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Boehner Cobbles Together New Spending Stopgap

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Updated: 11:48 p.m.

With negotiations breaking down Monday on a six-month spending bill, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will float a one-week measure that includes a controversial abortion rider and $12 billion in cuts in the hopes of extracting further concessions from Democrats on the longer-term deal.

While the stopgap will primarily be a short-term measure, it would also fund the Defense Department through the end of fiscal 2011 on Sept. 30, according to a statement released by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) late Monday. It otherwise continues funding through April 15, just before lawmakers in both chambers are scheduled to leave Capitol Hill for a two-week recess.

The decision to introduce the bill comes as Boehner prepares for a White House meeting Tuesday with President Barack Obama about finding a way forward to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Rogers are also scheduled to attend the 10:15 a.m. meeting.

The bill “provides us with an option if House Republicans choose to use it,” Boehner’s office said Monday night.

Although Senate Democrats and the White House have agreed to $33 billion in cuts, more than half of the $61 billion in cuts that the House passed this year, Boehner appears intent on forcing more reductions from Democrats. But wary that an impasse would shut down the government, Boehner is proposing the one-week stopgap, which Rogers introduced late Monday.

The stopgap will include $12 billion in cuts to discretionary spending and a provision that would prohibit the District of Columbia government from using federal or local funds to pay for abortions for low-income women, according to Rogers’ statement.

A spokesman for Reid dismissed the short-term bill Monday night. “We’re negotiating a long-term budget resolution,” spokesman Jon Summers said. “That’s why we’re all going to the White House on Tuesday.”

Rogers told reporters Monday that Republicans are serious about trying to avert a shutdown and that Senate Democrats are not working in good faith to avoid one.

“We spent the weekend conversing with the Senate, and all of a sudden we made good progress Saturday, come Sunday things just stopped,” he said, adding that Reid would not let his staff agree to any policy riders or allow negotiators to talk about specific numbers without checking with him.

A shutdown is possible, according to Rogers.

“We want to avert that at all costs on our side,” he said. “That’s why I’m puzzled the Senator has stopped the negotiations knowing it could lead to a shutdown.”

The Kentucky Republican demurred when asked for specifics about Republicans’ plans, telling reporters, “You may be impressed.”

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