Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a press release statement today in reference to budget negotiations aimed at funding the government for the rest of the year.
“I am extremely disappointed that after weeks of productive negotiations with Speaker Boehner, Tea Party Republicans are scrapping all the progress we have made and threatening to shut down the government if they do not get all of their extreme demands. The division between the Tea Party and mainstream Republicans is preventing us from reaching a responsible solution on a long-term budget that will make smart cuts while protecting American jobs, and prevented negotiations from taking place over the weekend even as the clock ticks toward a government shutdown. Apparently these extremists would rather shut down the government and risk sending our economy back into a recession than work with Democrats or even their own leadership to find a responsible compromise.
“For the sake of our economy, it’s time for mainstream Republicans to stand up to the Tea Party and rejoin Democrats at the table to negotiate a responsible solution that cuts spending while protecting jobs.”
Congressional Quarterly offers a more positive outlook:
The conventional wisdom is that a shutdown is likelier than ever. Not so.
In fact, there’s an overall money deal that could get through Congress with large numbers of votes from both parties, even though the looming agreement would push aside all the policy riders the GOP right wants so badly. It’s a $30 billion-over-six-months spending cut that Senate leaders put on the table at the end of last week on behalf of the Democrats — and that was initially rejected by the House GOP leadership.
But that grand total is almost the same as the level of spending cuts Ryan proposed on behalf of that very same House GOP leadership at the start of this debate — before the freshman-led conservatives lambasted that as insignificant and ordered the appropriators back to the drawing board.
Those conservatives of course won’t be satisfied with abandoning the policy riders or settling for half the cuts the House passed in February, and so perhaps 75 in the GOP would vote against such a dollar figure. But that would leave about 165 Republicans voting in favor of what their leadership could fairly claim was just the sort of deep-but-reasonable reduction in discretionary domestic spending they sought when the year began. And then it would take support from only about a quarter of the Democrats to get the bill through the House, and surely there are 55 or so who are politically scared enough about 2012 to go along. In the Senate, the math would be similar: Better than three out of five Republicans in favor (meaning about 15 super-conservative “no” votes) and close to half the Democrats (including all those vulnerable to defeat next year) going along.
Of course, it won’t happen that easily or quickly — as evidenced by the fact that talks broke down at the end of last week over something so ultimately inconsequential as which bill should be the parliamentary vehicle for any deal. And there’s no way an accord will get struck this week, not with thousands of tea party supporters planning a rally Thursday at the Capitol to insist that GOP leaders follow through on their spending-cut promises.