Report: Budget agreement for $39 billion in cuts may be imminent; Update: Sources tell ABC deal is done; Update: “This is the best deal we could get out of them”; Update: No funding for abortion in D.C.

posted at 8:50 pm on April 8, 2011 by Allahpundit

It’s not a Democratic ploy, either. House Republican sources, including David Dreier, are telling NRO that it looks like a done deal. No surprise, given the reports about the red-meat wrinkles having been ironed out.

Fox News says Reid’s set to speak on the Senate floor soon. Presumably all that’s left is for each side to sign off on the final terms and then he’ll make the announcement. Total cuts: $39 billion, which is a bit higher than what Boehner (allegedly) asked for initially. As expected, he traded concessions on Planned Parenthood for deeper cuts.

The likelihood of a war-time federal government shutdown—the first in American history—diminished dramatically on Friday night as all parties began reviewing, with the goal of approving, a broad array of cuts and a short-term bill to keep the government operating while the details are put into legislative language for full congressional action next week.

While leadership staff insist there is no deal yet, that caution belies significant progress in narrowing long-standing differences and the widening assumption in both parties that a shutdown will be averted and all that remains unknown is the precise procedural steps that will walk everyone back from the abyss.

Numerous GOP and Democratic sources on and off Capitol Hill tell National Journal that the outline of the deal is as follows: up to $39 billion in cuts from the 2010 budget, $514 billion for the defense budget covering the remainder of this fiscal year, a GOP agreement to abandon controversial policy riders dealing with Planned Parenthood and the EPA, and an agreement to pass a “bridge” continuing resolution tonight to keep the government operating while the deal is written in bill form…

Republicans do not want any agreement framework to surface before a conference meeting this evening. And a Senate Democratic aide that side is wary that opposition House conservatives will still scuttle a deal.

They probably can’t pass the full 2011 budget before midnight, so the plan is to have an agreement in principle on that and instead pass the three- or seven-day stopgap tonight. The vote on funding the government for the rest of the year will come early next week, and then we’ll move on to the debt ceiling debate, followed by the endless war over Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget. How excited are you?

As for that boldfaced part, it’d be insane for Republicans to be telling reporters that a deal is imminent if they weren’t sure yet that the conference (or most of the conference) will sign onto it. They’d be gift-wrapping a “social conservatives forced a shutdown!” narrative for the media — which, perhaps, explains why they were sending out e-mails to reporters as of 10 minutes ago insisting that nothing has been agreed to yet. Reid should be speaking at 9 p.m. ET or a bit later. Stand by for updates.

Update: Boehner’s going to hear it from fiscal cons unhappy with the amount of cuts and from social cons unhappy with the Planned Parenthood provisions being dropped, but he’s hearing it from Allen West for a third reason — playing politics with troop funding in yesterday’s proposed one-week stopgap budget.

“The House Majority has now placed the funding for the Department of Defense and the funding for the troops down as a bargaining chip,” he writes. “In the last 100 days, the House Majority could have passed at any point in time a separate stand alone Appropriations for the Department of Defense and the funding for our men and women in uniform.”

West then added that he is “disgusted” by the perception that troops are being used to pass the short-term budget bill.

“I voted for the Department of Defense Appropriation bill because, at this moment in time, due to the complete failure by the Democrat Majority in the Senate this is currently the only vehicle on the table,” he writes. “But more importantly, my ‘Yes’ vote today was for my Brothers and Sisters in uniform. My ‘No’ sentiment reflects a disappointment in my own leadership.”

I’ve been under the assumption all day that if talks break down and the shutdown cometh, Reid and Boehner will at least pass a stopgap funding bill for military personnel. The idea of U.S. troops not getting paid while in the field is repulsive; according to the Journal, families of troops killed in action would also suffer as death benefits are temporarily stopped. As I write this, Kay Bailey Hutchison is on the Senate floor demanding a troop-funding measure. We’ll see that happen, at least, before midnight. I hope.

Update: Maybe this is the White House not wanting to get ahead of Reid and Boehner at a delicate moment, or maybe it’s the truth: “At the WH [we’re] hearing no budget deal yet and ‘nothing is imminent.’ House Republicans to meet in a little while.”

Update: For what it’s worth, Chuck Todd says there is a deal and that the GOP conference is currently reviewing it. Assuming they okay it, there’ll be some sort of announcement then.

Update: Sure looks like we’re close to a deal: Check out what Mike Johanns posted on his Senate website before quickly withdrawing it.

Update: Tapper says the GOP conference has given Boehner the green light and now sources from both sides are saying the deal is done. $38.5 billion in cuts, no defunding of Planned Parenthood. National Journal sets the scene inside the conference room:

BREAKING: House Speaker John Boehner outlined the parameters of a long-term funding deal, telling his members in a closed-door meeting, “This is the best deal we could get out of them,” according to a lawmaker in the room who asked not to be identified.

The deal is still not official, Boehner cautioned, but in a sign things are coming to a close, the House is preparing for a 5-6-day short-term continuing resolution with $3 billion in cuts, he told members, according to the lawmaker.

Update: Here’s a slightly sunnier way to think of the $38.5 billion in cuts: “CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh reported that a senior GOP aide in the meeting called it the ‘largest real dollar spending cut in American history’ and said the proposal would cut more than $500 billion from the federal budget over the next 10 years.”

Update: The joint statement from Reid and Boehner:

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.”

As part of the compromise, the GOP will get a vote in the Senate on defunding Planned Parenthood and NPR, etc. Needless to say, those votes will fail.

Update: Turns out there is one rider that’ll end up as part of the final deal. The provision defunding abortion in D.C., which was initially part of Boehner’s proposed one-week stopgap budget, will be added to the package. Democrats have voted for that in the past as part of other budget bills so they have some political cover from precedent.

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