House Could Vote on Stopgap; Obama Calls Meeting

Posted April 6, 2011 at 3:27pm

Updated: 5:35 p.m.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Wednesday that the House could vote Thursday on a one-week stopgap spending measure aimed at averting a looming government shutdown. Shortly after the announcement, the White House updated President Barack Obama’s schedule to include a Wednesday evening meeting with the Speaker and Senate Majority Leader.

Vice President Joseph Biden will join Obama, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the Oval Office at 8:45 p.m. to discuss the negotiations on finalizing a spending bill. The meeting will be held as soon as the president returns to the White House from speaking at a National Action Network gala in New York.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president to New York that Obama called the meeting because he had “decided that not enough progress has been made.”

Boehner said Wednesday afternoon that progress was being made on a six-month spending measure but that he would nevertheless move the stopgap measure. “I think we’ve made some progress, yes. But we are not finished, not by a long shot,” he said following an hourlong meeting with his Conference.

When asked whether he had the votes, a confident Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters, “Yes … it will pass with Republican votes.”

McCarthy dispatched his whip team earlier in the day to take the temperature of the Conference and begin whipping the one-week bill. According to Republicans, McCarthy and his team have sought to cast the bill as less of a stopgap and more as a “troop funding” bill.

Boehner’s one-week spending bill would reduce overall spending levels by $6 billion. Although it includes $12 billion in cuts to discretionary spending, it also includes a six-month defense spending provision that would increase spending by $6 billion.

It also has a controversial rider that bars the District of Columbia from using federal and local funds to pay for health services that include abortion for low-income women.

The abortion provision, which was key to gaining support from social conservatives, means the bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate, Reid has said.

Boehner seemed to exclude the possibility of waiving a House rule that requires bill text to be available for review for three days before coming to a vote. He said it was unlikely that a vote on a six-month spending bill would occur before next week.

“Once we reach an agreement, it’s going to take two or three days to put it all together,” the Speaker said.

Negotiations between Boehner and Reid have focused on a bill that would cut $40 billion from current spending levels.