After an all-night negotiating session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that he is “not nearly as optimistic” as he was last night about avoiding a government shutdown before a Friday deadline, saying of a federal funding gap: “it looks like it’s headed in that direction.”
The Democratic leader said that the two sides have essentially agreed on the amount of money set to be cut from the long-term budget but that Republicans have drawn a line in the sand over “ideology” – including policy issues dealing with funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Our differences are no longer over the savings we get on government spending, Reid said. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”
Reid’s comments came as the White House announced another meeting with congressional leaders scheduled for 1 pm ET. The government will shut down if an agreement is not reached by midnight on Friday.
House Republicans are lobbying for some “policy riders” – attachments to the budget bill – including ones that would defund the president’s health care plan, cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, and target EPA greenhouse gas rules.
Those riders, particularly those relating to abortion, have no place in a budget bill, an exasperated Reid argued.
“It’s not realistic to shut down the government on a debate dealing with abortion,” the Nevada lawmaker said. “It’s not realistic and it’s not fair to the American people.”
Reid also announced that the Senate cannot pass a one-week stopgap bill – including very deep cuts but continued funding for the Pentagon - that would delay a shutdown.
The House today will vote on that bill, which would fund the Department of Defense through the rest of the year, cut $12 billion in spending and prevent the District of Columbia from using city taxes for funding abortion for low income women.
On the Senate floor today, Reid called that one-week measure “a non-starter.”
But Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to agree to the proposal, saying that the stopgap measure is "well within the bounds of what their own leadership has defined as acceptable."
The alternative, McConnell said, is a shut down.
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell and Shawna Thomas contributed to this report.