WASHINGTON--Washington is hurtling toward a government shutdown on Friday night as the time to agree on a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year grows very short.
Because of Senate rules, Democrats could be forced to break two GOP filibusters in order to pass a spending bill, and each vote requires a 30-hour delay. Government funding expires on Friday night, meaning that if negotiators don't reach a deal by the end of today or early tomorrow, just one Republican senator could stall the vote until the deadline arrives.
If the talks Tuesday between House Republicans and the White House are any guide, the two parties are a long way from a deal. House Republicans emerged from the White House telling reporters that they are committed to finding a solution to the impasse, but were unwilling to do it unless the White House and Senate Democrats agree to cuts beyond the $33 billion level that had previously been floated.
"The Speaker told the president that the House will not be put in a box and forced to choose between two options that are bad for the country (accepting a bad deal that fails to make real spending cuts, or accepting a government shutdown due to Senate inaction)," a summary of the meeting provided to reporters by House Republican leadership read.
The House has instead proposed a one-week spending bill that would cut government spending by $12 billion while funding the military through the end of September, when the fiscal year ends.
House Democrats quickly rejected the offer. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters it was time to put an end to the "sporadic, episodic" stop-gap bills and reach a final agreement. He said that Democrats would whip opposition to the House bill if it is brought to the floor.
House Republicans aren't willing to take yes for an answer, Hoyer said, and were demanding far more than they were entitled by their partial control of the government, noting that Democrats control the Senate and White House. "You would think if you're going to reach a compromise, we get two, they get one," he said. " It appears that one side doesn't want to compromise."