JEFFREY BROWN: The threat of a government shutdown appears to have eased for now, as a Republican-backed proposal picked up some Democratic support.
NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our update.
KWAME HOLMAN: With current funding for federal operations set to run out at midnight Friday, congressional leaders seemed to be coalescing around a short-term measure that would avert a shutdown.
The proposal released Friday by House Republicans would keep the government running another two weeks but would cut $4 billion in spending, including $2.7 billion from nearly 50 earmarks, spending directed by lawmakers to home state projects, $650 million in federal highway funds, and $368 million spread across four Department of Education programs.
Congressional Democrats initially balked at the new Republican proposal, but some warmed to it once it became clear reductions would come from cuts already included in President Obama’s budget for the coming year.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN anchor: … averting a federal shutdown with the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
KWAME HOLMAN: The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota, spoke yesterday on CNN.
CANDY CROWLEY: Will you accept this $4 billion worth of cuts over two weeks to try to get a longer-term plan? Is that acceptable to you?
SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-N.D.): Yes, look, it is acceptable to me to have $4 billion and savings and a two-week package, sure. The makeup of that, you know, is up for discussion and negotiation. That negotiation is ongoing. And I’m confident we’ll achieve a conclusion on that.
KWAME HOLMAN: And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today welcomed signs of increased Democratic support for the Republicans’ two-week spending plan.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-Ky.), minority leader: This bill represents an effort to change the culture here in Washington. It says let’s start to change the mentality around here. Let’s find $4 billion that all of us can agree to cut, and cut it, and continue from that good start.
Democratic leaders in Congress resisted even this up until a few days ago. Now they have started to suggest they might be willing to agree to it. This is progress.
KWAME HOLMAN: At the White House today, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president hasn’t committed to signing the short-term bill just yet.
WOMAN: The bill is passed.
KWAME HOLMAN: House Republicans already approved their version of how the government should be funded through September, the end of the fiscal year. But, as Speaker John Boehner noted at a gathering of religious broadcasters in Tennessee Sunday, Democrats were unwilling to go along with that proposal.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio), speaker of the House: The House has passed legislation reflecting the will of the people that would keep the government running through October, while cutting spending.
The leader of the United States Senate has refused to allow a vote on this legislation. So, the House will pass a shorter-term bill that will also keep the government running, while including reasonable spending cuts at the same time.
KWAME HOLMAN: The House is scheduled to begin debating and voting on the two-week spending bill tomorrow.