Reid: Senate Democrats will approve stopgap funding, sidestepping federal shutdown
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that Senate Democrats will agree to a measure that would keep the federal government funded for two weeks while enacting $4 billion in cuts, a move likely to avert a government shutdown this Friday.
Addressing reporters after Senate Democrats' weekly caucus luncheon, Reid said that the Senate will vote on the two-week funding measure "in the next 48 hours." The House is expected to pass the resolution this afternoon.
"We had a good discussion in our caucus," Reid said. "I've had, of course, a number of meetings outside the caucus, and it's our belief that the bill that we will vote on this week has no riders on it, that H.R. 1 ... did such bad things to so many programs. Not a single one of them is on this bill, and they've taken our numbers. These are our numbers. So we'll pass this, and then we'll look to funding the government on a long-term basis."
The riders Reid referred to include more than 60 amendments tacked onto the longer-term funding measure that passed the House two weeks ago. Democrats have expressed strong opposition to some of those amendments, including one that would bar federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Reid also said that he had spoken with the White House "quite a few times" Tuesday morning and expressed hope that lawmakers would be able to reach a bipartisan agreement on a longer-term funding measure.
"I'm anxious to meet with [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and [House Speaker John] Boehner and anyone from the White House any time," Reid said. "We need to work our way through this. But the sooner we get this short-term funding of the government done, the quicker we can move to a long-term [funding measure]. That is where we're headed."
McConnell, addressing reporters in the Capitol shortly before Reid's news conference, said that Senate Republicans are also behind the House's short-term funding measure.
"We're confident that that will clear the Senate," McConnell said. "It represents a pro rata share of what would be reduced over the next two years had we passed the $60 billion reduction in the initial House bill. And then we'll continue to talk with our Democratic friends and the White House about where to go from here with regard to the balance of this fiscal year."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday the White House would prefer a
month-long continuing resolution with $8 billion in reductions instead of the proposal for $4 billion over two weeks.
"Our goal here is that we get a continuing resolution that is clean, that deals with the spending cuts we can agree on," Carney said. "We do believe that if $4 billion in cuts over two weeks is acceptable, that $8 billion over four or five weeks is something that we could agree on, again, if it was a clean, continuing resolution."
He said Obama and Boehner (R-Ohio) had spoken for about 10 minutes on the phone about the budget debate on Tuesday morning, but Carney would not divulge any details of the conversation.
Staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. also contributed to this story.
| March 1, 2011; 3:05 PM ET
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