As Democrats in the Senate argue that "ideology" is the only thing standing in the way of a deal to avert a government shutdown, House Republicans are countering that’s simply not true.
At a Thursday morning press conference, House Speaker John Boehner disputed Senate Majority Leader Harry’s Reid’s claim that the two sides have essentially agreed on a base number for spending cuts and are now squabbling only over unrelated policy provisions.
“In fact, there is no agreement on a number,” Boehner said. “I think we were closer to a number last night than we were this morning.”
Asked if Republicans were focusing particularly on an abortion-related policy "rider" as an area closed to compromise, the speaker said that issues to related abortion funding are far from the only sticking point in the ongoing negotiations.
“There’s far more than one provision that’s holding up any agreement, he said. “I can tell you that.”
Reid told NBC News on Wednesday that Republicans have presented 65 policy riders.
Today, House leaders will introduce a one-week continuing resolution that would fund the Pentagon through the end of the year and cut $12 billion in government spending.
Boehner referred to that measure today as a “a troop funding bill” – a characterization that House Democrats call inauthentic – and said that money for defense spending is crucial due the United States’ engagement in “a third war.” (If there is a government shutdown, paychecks to troops – including those in combat zones - would be delayed.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said the Defense Department funding provision of the Republican-backed bill is “a very cynical ploy” to push through a "radical social agenda."
“The American people will see right through that,” he said.
Boehner said Thursday that negotiators are still working toward a solution to avert a funding gap, emphasizing that a shutdown has never been a goal of Republican leaders.
“All of us in the room want this to be over,” he said. “We each have policy provisions we feel strongly about. We have spending that we feel strongly about.”
“We’re going to try to continue to be responsible and work our way through this in a way that keeps the government open and provides real spending cuts that will help get our economy moving again.”
NBC's Shawna Thomas, Kelly O'Donnell, and Luke Russert contributed reporting.