Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stopped short Friday of ruling out attaching some less controversial policy riders to the stopgap funding compromise that the Nevada Democrat and the White House are working to hammer out with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to avert a government shutdown.
Reid told reporters during a Friday conference call that there was “no need to talk about riders” until negotiators had finalized an overall spending-cut figure but that Senate Democrats would look at policy provisions that had been included in the House-passed bill “one by one” to determine whether any of them were palatable.
Reid stressed that riders he characterized as “ridiculous” — including proposals to bar federal funding for Planned Parenthood and NPR — “had no chance of surviving.” Reid also said all Environmental Protection Agency-related riders, including a proposal to bar the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, were non-starters as well.
Negotiations are expected to go into the weekend as Congressional leaders work against a fast-approaching deadline. The current continuing resolution runs through April 8. The two sides appear to be closing in on a deal to cut $33 billion from the federal budget. Vice President Joseph Biden said Wednesday that negotiators have settled on that number and are now hashing out where to make the cuts.
Senate Democratic leaders on Friday’s call called on Boehner to resist pressure from his right flank and work out cuts totaling $33 billion to specific accounts that Democrats could sign off on. Resistance has been mounting to another short-term funding bill, and Reid said the only way he could support another short-term measure would be “if it were necessary to finalize the paperwork on a deal” that had been given the green light by all parties.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.