So let’s see. The Democrats wouldn’t pass a budget for the entire fiscal year when they controlled Congress because, well, they’re gutless and didn’t want another tough vote before the midterms. Then the House GOP took over and tried to pass one for what remained of the fiscal year, but Reid blocked it in the Senate because $61 billion is apparently an insane amount to cut when we’re racking up $50 billion in new deficits each week. So then both sides further downscaled and passed a couple of three-week stopgap budgets to keep the government running while they negotiated. Now they’re downscaling further still to three-day stopgaps, again to enable negotiations. By next week, they’re going to be passing three-hour budgets, aren’t they?
From CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry:
A senior Democratic source told CNN negotiators are now focusing on a proposal to keep the government open for three days while leaders try to finish a broader budget deal this weekend as a last-ditch effort to stave off a crisis.
The proposal would not include any controversial legislative riders on controversial topics like abortion, but the Democratic source cautioned it is not clear the plan can pass the House and Senate by the midnight deadline to keep the government running.
It is, however, important to note that the White House on Thursday said President Obama could sign another short-term continuing resolution if broader negotiations were making progress.
Henry later tweeted that GOP sources say a new seven-day stopgap is more likely. But what if they don’t pass it by the morning? Does that mean we’ll have to do without the cherry-blossom festival? (Answer: No.) In fact, according to WaPo, the White House has a few budgetary tricks it can use to keep things running on a very short-term basis while Reid and Boehner agree on a final face-saving compromise. Quote:
The White House, in fact, could use obscure rules to keep the government running into Saturday. A senior government official said it could only do that if the administration has “a high level of confidence” that the House and Senate were on the verge of passing a short-term or permanent spending bill and President Obama could sign it by the end of the day Saturday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to define exactly what constituted a “high level” of confidence, and said the White House is hoping not to use this option.
The other option is for Congress to simply give itself more time.
Apparently, Boehner prepared for a short-term budget to pass tonight (just in case) by taking care of some of the procedural prerequisites yesterday. The only potential hitch is in the Senate, which would need unanimous consent to skip its own procedures and vote on a House budget right away. If even a single senator objects, that would grind the process to a halt. Anyone willing to do that and risk forever being dubbed Senator Shutdown? DeMint? Paul? Anyone?
Here’s Charlie Rangel on last night’s “Factor” admitting that Pelosi’s Congress didn’t pass a budget last year because it was a “hot potato,” which is Rangel-speak for “we’re gutless.” As I write this, NBC is reporting that Reid’s and Boehner’s standoff over the Planned Parenthood rider may have finally been resolved, which I guess means that the GOP’s prepared to drop it. Stay tuned. Exit quotation: “Republicans make it clear that they will revisit the issue soon, perhaps when the even larger battle on raising the debt limit – expected in the coming weeks – is joined.”
Update: Politico’s hearing the same thing as NBC. They’re still haggling over cuts, but it sounds like there’s consensus on the Planned Parenthood and NPR red meat:
Democratic officials familiar with the talks said Republicans had backed down, and that alternatives — such as a standalone vote or a study on Title X funding — may be offered as a concession.
Asked whether he was optimistic friday night, Speaker John Boehner said, “you know me, I was born with the glass half full.”