Deal or No Deal?

by Andrew Stiles

That is the question on everyone’s mind today on Capitol Hill. Staff negotiators worked until 3 a.m. and appear to have made progress, but nobody wants to be the first to blink. Harry Reid says: “This all deals with ‘women’s health.’ Everything has been resolved. Everything,” presumably referring to provisions that would deny federal funding for Planned Parenthood. However, GOP aides insist that “spending” remains the largest unresolved issue. Lawmakers from both parties are storming the airwaves this morning, basically to lay the groundwork for blaming the other side for a government shutdown, which is what will happen if they don’t pass some kind of funding resolution by midnight tonight. Speaker Boehner will likely try to sell a compromise to House Republicans when they meet today at noon. He would like to pass a bill without the help Democratic votes, which would mean limiting GOP defections to about 30. Stay tuned, as the situation should develop rapidly, and could go all the way down to the wire.

UPDATE (10:39 a.m.): Reid tells reporters that Democrats have agreed to $38 billion in spending cuts, abortion funding still the only area of disagreement. Senate Democrats plan to introduce their own short-term resolution that would fund the military in the event of a shutdown, and President Obama has canceled a trip to Indiana in light of the ongoing negotiations.

UPDATE (10:58 a.m.): Boehner gave a very brief statement to reporters just now. He said “there is only one reason” why there is no deal and that is spending. “The American people deserve to know: When will the White House and Senate Democrats get serious about cutting spending?” The Speaker called on Harry Reid to pass the House-passed “troop funding bill” and called on President Obama to sign it into law (he had threatened a veto).

UPDATE (11:10 a.m.): Speaking on the Senate floor, Reid said he was “very hopeful” that an agreement can be reached today, announcing a special Democratic caucus meeting at 1:00 p.m.. He then went off on a ridiculous diatribe about how Republicans “want to shut the government down because they think there’s nothing more important than denying women cancer screenings,” claiming the disagreement had “nothing to do with abortion.” (!)

“They want me to sarifice my wife’s health, my daughter’s health and my nine granddaughters’ health,” he said. “As a father, a husband and a grandfather I am personally offended.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) offered a swift rebuttal: “You don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your blood pressure or cholesterol checked,” he said. “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood. That’s 90 percent of what they do.”

Kyl urged lawmakers to “stop throwing rotten apples at each other.”

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