Reid, Boehner: Still No Deal

Posted April 8, 2011 at 10:21am

Updated: 12:05 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that Democrats plan to move their own one-week stopgap spending bill to keep the government open past midnight as negotiations snagged over Planned Parenthood.

The Nevada Democrat said at a Friday news conference that both sides agreed to $78 billion in cuts from President Barack Obama’s budget at the White House on Thursday night and resolved every other issue except women’s health.

Reid said the number came from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “We didn’t invent it,” he said.

Making a brief statement to reporters Friday, Boehner dismissed Reid’s claims, saying, “we do not have an agreement as of yet” on the total size of the cuts. Boehner also insisted that policy riders are not the issue. “We are close to a resolution on the policy issues,” he said.

The Democrats’ one-week spending bill would include funding to make sure troops get paid in the event of a shutdown but not the full-year Defense appropriations bill, according to Senate Democratic staff.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl predicted that Democratic attempts to pass a “clean” weeklong continuing resolution would get Republican support only if there was a deal on a full-year measure already in place.

“Not unless there is an agreement,” the Arizona Republican said. “If there’s an agreement in place, and all that is needed is a little time to get it written up and so on, then one could see that possibility.”

But, short of that, he did not predict GOP support.

Kyl said he expected that most of the $12 billion in spending reductions that were included in the weeklong continuing resolution that passed the House earlier this week would be included in the final deal. Kyl disputed Reid’s claim that the Planned Parenthood funding was the only remaining sticking point.

“Everything that I’ve heard contradicts what Majority Leader Reid just now said, that it all boils down to Title X spending,” he said. “I’m not aware that that’s the case.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the chamber floor that he thinks there will be an agreement shortly. “These are not unresolvable issues. … Give negotiators a few more hours to work this out,” the Kentucky Republican said.

McConnell did not immediately comment Friday on Democrats’ proposal for a one-week stopgap bill, but he said the House spending bill should be acceptable and complained that Obama has said he will veto it but not why.

Several weeks ago, however, McConnell said he would only support another short-term bill if full funding for the Department of Defense was included.

If Senate Republicans block Reid’s one-week bill, the Democrats’ strategy would put the proverbial hot potato in Republicans’ hands when the clock strikes midnight and a shutdown occurs.

Senate Democrats will hold a caucus meeting at 1 p.m. Friday, while House Republicans are holding a Conference meeting at noon.

The debate on the Senate floor, meanwhile, opened with a particularly appropriate prayer from the Senate chaplain. “Lord, save us from ourselves,” he said.

Kathleen Hunter and John Stanton contributed to this report.