House and Senate leaders could be forced to push through yet another stopgap spending measure this week if they are unable to hammer out a deal on a six-month plan by Tuesday, House lawmakers conceded Friday.
Negotiators are slowly closing in on an agreement on a six-month continuing resolution to fund the government beyond the April 8 deadline. But given the House’s three-day rule for publishing bills and the time it would take to actually write a bill, Republicans said a deal must be wrapped up by Tuesday at the latest.
“As long as we get things done by Tuesday, I think the timing works,” Rep. Tom Price said. “That’s kind of the drop-dead date.”
And while passing another short-term CR just weeks ago seemed like it might be impossible, House and Senate leaders may be forced to go with a smaller package if a final deal can’t be reached by early next week.
The Georgia Republican said the only feasible short-term CR that could draw support would be if a deal were reached on the six-month spending package but there wasn’t enough time for it to pass both chambers.
“It would be hard to pass a short-term CR,” Price said.
Although some Republicans have insisted on a government shutdown if Democrats do not agree to the House’s $61 billion in spending cuts, appetite for that politically explosive outcome appears to be waning.
For instance, on Friday Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) dismissed the possibility of a shutdown, arguing, “Let’s face it, it would end up costing more than you would save.”
On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said a deal was close and that negotiators were working on how to make $33 billion in cuts.
“We need to agree on the details and how we get there, in a way that cuts deeply but does not cut the very investments that we need to make in education, infrastructure, research and development” and other areas, Carney said.
Although Carney acknowledged the process is “complicated,” he insisted that “there is no reason we cannot get a deal here.”
Despite the easing of rhetoric about a possible shutdown, on Saturday morning Boehner continued to insist that an agreement was not at hand on the long-term CR.
“Let me be clear. There is no agreement,” Boehner said in his response to President Barack Obama’s weekly radio address.
However, while Boehner may have tough words on the status of talks, he is clearly worried about the perception of how they are proceeding.
Boehner’s radio address was the fifth time in the last six days that he has addressed either the nation or the press on the CR talks, breaking his normal reserved approach to the media since he became Speaker in January.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.