The Hill: Boehner says 'almost all' policy differences settled; cuts at issue

This post first appeared online at The Hill on April 8, 2011.

Boehner says ‘almost all’ policy differences settled; cuts at issue
By Michael O’Brien

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said differences on spending cuts continue to prevent Congress from reaching a deal on a funding measure that would prevent a government shutdown set to begin after midnight.

Insisting the GOP wants to avoid a government shutdown, Boehner said “almost all” of the policy differences between the parties have been dealt with, and that differences over the level of cuts are preventing a final deal.

“We’re not going to roll over and sell out the American people like it’s been done time and again in Washington,” Boehner said. “We’re damn serious about it.”

Democrats hit cable news shows, the Senate floor and social media on Friday with a full-court press, arguing that Republicans were holding up a deal because of a refusal to eliminate a provision on abortion in the House-passed bill that would prevent government funds from going to Planned Parenthood.

Asked if the Planned Parenthood funding was a problem, Boehner said almost all of the policy issues had been addressed. Separately, the Susan B. Anthony List, which opposes abortion rights, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, would take part in a 3 p.m. press call arguing that President Obama would be to blame for a shutdown because of an insistence on protecting Planned Parenthood.

“The president has singled out Planned Parenthood, a significant financial and political supporter, for special attention and protection,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the SBA List. “When is the question going to be asked of President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, ‘Why is it reasonable to shut down the government in order to protect Planned Parenthood?’ “

Boehner spoke after a meeting with the House GOP conference, which has pressured Republican leaders to win as high a level of cuts as possible to 2011 spending. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday said the sides had reached an agreement to cut spending by $38 billion, about $5 billion higher than what the White House and Democrats had offered earlier this week. The House approved a measure earlier this year that cuts spending by $61 billion.

Reid insisted Friday that the Planned Parenthood provision is holding up a deal.

“Everything has been resolved, everything,” Reid said. “It’s an ideological battle that has nothing to do with the fiscal integrity of this country. It has everything to do with the ideology on that other side of the Capitol.”

Legislation approved by the House would eliminate funding for all of Title X, which does not pay for abortions. Title X last year received $317 million, with $75 million of those funds going to Planned Parenthood affiliates.

With less than 12 hours to go before a shutdown, Boehner suggested the GOP could agree to a short-term measure to keep the government funded if there is an agreement on a funding measure for the rest of the fiscal year.

Lawmakers might need a 48- or 72-hour funding measure to keep the government operating while lawmakers discuss an agreement negotiated by the White House and congressional leaders with their members.

The two sides said they had made progress after a Thursday night meeting at the White House.

— This story was posted at 1:35 p.m. and updated at 1:52 p.m.

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