Deal Close to Avert Shutdown

Posted April 8, 2011 at 9:15pm

Lawmakers appear to be very close to a deal to avert a government shutdown after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed to drop a rider on Planned Parenthood and Democrats agreed to some minor spending changes.

Negotiations are ongoing, but both sides were hoping to reach a deal and then quickly pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown that would begin at midnight.

House Republicans are set to meet at 9:45 p.m. to discuss the situation, said Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas). Hensarling said Boehner told Members that there is no final deal yet.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor that the Planned Parenthood rider had been resolved.

“I understand that’s been worked out now,” the Illinois Democrat said. “During the course of the day, the Speaker has considered a different approach to it, thank goodness. But now’s the time to close the deal.”

Durbin implored Boehner to accept the spending level that Democrats said had been agreed to the previous night at the White House.

“I hope the Speaker can summon the courage to bring his Caucus together and to vote, to avert this embarrassing, embarrassing shutdown which will occur in less than three hours unless something happens.”

Durbin also said that whatever happens, Democrats would work to find a way to make sure that troops are paid, either through a short-term CR or on a separate bill authored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) that has overwhelming support in both chambers.

Jon Summers, spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), cautioned that negotiations are ongoing.

The House and Senate would move a short-term bridge CR to give time to draft and score a final agreement, according to aides familiar with the negotiations.

A Democratic aide said the deal on the table isn’t all that different from one Boehner was offered and rejected a day ago.

But Boehner has been under increasing pressure to reach a deal, with some Senate Republicans urging that he drop the Planned Parenthood rider and cut a deal, particularly with the two sides so close and larger fights still to come on the debt limit and next year’s budget.