Just 12 hours ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told news cameras outside the White House he was hopeful he could reach a spending deal with House Republicans to avoid a government shutdown. “I have confidence that we can get this done,” he said. “We’re not there yet. But hope lies eternal.”
That’s all out the window now. On the Senate floor Thursday morning, Reid declared “I am not nearly as optimistic as I was 11 hours ago.” Of a government shutdown, he said “It looks like it’s heading in that direction.”
“The only thing holding up the agreement is ideology,” he said. “[Republicans] have drawn a line in the sand…[over] ideology.”
It’s all coming down to the environment and abortion rights — policy issues that Republicans have tacked on to this spending fight, and over which they’re now drawing a line in the sand.
“The two main issues holding this up are the choice of women — reproductive rights — and clean air,” Reid said.
Aides to Reid tell TPM that they think the negotiations over a deal are going to come down to abortion. Reid, Boehner, and White House staff worked until 1 a.m. Thursday, three hours after Wednesday night’s meeting broke, with no deal on riders.
Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel paints an even more dire picture. “What Sen. Reid said is not true. There is no agreement on spending cuts or policy.”
Reid and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are headed back to the White House for a meeting with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at 1 pm this afternoon. House Republicans will pass an emergency bill with severe spending cuts and press Senate Democrats to fast track them to avoid a government shutdown. Obama has told Boehner that the stopgap plan is a non-starter.
Setting Dems up to take the fall, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took the floor moments after Reid finished his speech and said accepting the GOP’s final stopgap is the only way for them prevent a government shutdown.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.