House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that Republicans and Democrats remain unable to agree on how much money to cut from the remaining six months of the fiscal year, but Democrats claim the impasse is the result of social policy riders the GOP wants to include in the budget bill.
Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are scheduled to meet with President Obama this afternoon to further negotiate a deal on spending that would avert a government shutdown when funding runs out at midnight Friday.
Reid told reporters Thursday that "a multitude of riders" is holding up the bill.
"The issue isn't funding," Reid said, adding that Boehner, "can stretch the truth all he wants but that is the truth."
Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing for the passage of a week-long stopgap bill that would slash spending by $12 billion while fully funding defense spending for the remainder of the year.
Boehner and the GOP have labeled this legislation a "troop funding bill," in an effort to make it difficult for Democrats to oppose. But it also includes a policy rider Democrats oppose. This one would ban the District of Columbia from spending local or federal funds on abortions.
As for the long-term deal, Boehner insisted far more than social policy riders stand in the way of an agreement. The two sides are trying to cut a deal that slashes between $33 billion and $40 billion from the fiscal 2011 budget that is now halfway gone.
Both sides met at the White House last night, but some time in the last 12 hours or so, Boehner said, Democrats changed their offer.
"I think we were closer on a number last night than we are today," Boehner said.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told The Washington Examiner he believes the two sides will cut a last-minute deal today or tomorrow, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., warned members they may be working this weekend if the stalemate continues.