According to the Associated Press, the government shutdown may have been averted this morning by a last-minute deal — but no one’s quite sure whether the deal is set or not. Both Fox and CNN say that John Boehner was to have addressed the media at 10:25 ET … and that still hasn’t begun, although they’re doing sound checks now. Republicans and Democrats have reportedly agreed to cut $38 billion for the rest of FY2011, but that Democrats are still balking at $300 million in cuts to Planned Parenthood:
The top Democrat in the Senate says the White House and Republicans have agreed on a spending cut of $38 billion but a fight over federal dollars for Planned Parenthood is blocking a deal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters Friday he’s cautiously optimistic after late night talks at the White House, but the budget dispute also has become a moving target.
Reid and Boehner are apparently going to hold dueling pressers, so we’ll know more shortly. Stay tuned.
Update: It’s now 10:52 and this presser still hasn’t started. The National Journal explains that this might be because Reid and Boehner can’t even agree on what they agreed on:
“We agreed on a number last night,” Reid told reporters in the Senate Press Gallery. He said he is “really upset that this government is going to shut down” because of GOP efforts to limit access to abortion.
A spokesman for Boehner has challenged Reid’s account, saying that continuing differences over spending cuts, not the abortion rider, remain the problem.
Here’s an idea: The Senate can pass a bill funding Planned Parenthood separately, so that federal subsidies for abortion mills don’t create a government shutdown, and let the House debate it straight up. Reid won’t do that because PP funding is not popular and such a rider might not even pass in the Senate.
Update II: Boehner gave the shortest presser in modern history, which one reporter called “surreal” as he was being ushered out of the room. Boehner said that “spending” was the only issue holding up an agreement, and challenged the White House and Harry Reid to “get serious” on spending cuts. After delivering a short statement, Boehner left the room without taking a single question.
Meanwhile, Reid told the press that the troops won’t get paid because the President wants to protect Planned Parenthood’s bottom line:
Reid said that in addition to agreeing on the spending cut, negotiators had worked out policy disputes, which involve environmental protection, implementing President Barack Obama’s health care law, and regulating the Internet.
But Reid said Democrats are holding the line on a plan to cut off Planned Parenthood from federal money.
“That is an issue, as the president said last night, that we are not bending on,” Reid said.
Really? We’re not going to fund the government because the House refuses to fund Planned Parenthood? That’s a position, all right. Let’s see Democrats run on it.
Update III: Here’s the video, via The Right Scoop. It’s quicker than producing a transcript.