Washington (CNN) - With funding for the federal government set to expire in less than two weeks, Senate Democrats and House Republicans are in discussions to avoid a government shutdown, a Senate Democratic leadership source told CNN.
News of the negotiations comes a day after several Republican lawmakers indicated they might accept a short-term spending bill as long as it included at least some spending reductions and not necessarily the deeper cuts the House approved last weekend.
Senate Democratic leaders reacted positively to those comments Monday, said the source, and hope it will lead to an agreement before March 4, when a government shutdown would begin if the House and Senate fail to reach an agreement.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, said on NBC's Meet the Press, "there will probably be a temporary [spending bill], but it should have some spending cuts as a down payment on controlling the size of government."
"My guess is we'll probably have some short-term extensions while we negotiate these things with spending cuts," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on CBS's Face the Nation.
Publicly, House Speaker John Boehner has said Senate Democrats should accept the entire $60 billion in cuts Republicans pushed through the House early Saturday morning, many of which chip away at the priorities of congressional Democrats and President Obama. However, privately House Republican leaders are acknowledging the need for a stopgap measure to continue funding the government while they negotiate spending levels for the bill a longer-term bill to fund the government through Oct. 1.
"Everyone knows that, no matter what the truth, we would be blamed [for a government shutdown], so it would be a dumb political move," one House Republican leadership aide told CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he does not want to agree to additional spending cuts this budget year but privately Senate Democratic leaders are bending on the issue.
"If they send something over with cuts we could probably accept it," said one Senate Democratic leadership aide.
After dozens of conservative freshmen Republicans forced their leaders to add billions of dollars more in cuts to the House bill, showing daylight between the new members and top Republicans about how deeply cuts should go, it was unclear whether the freshmen would agree to a stopgap measure to fund the government.
CNN has learned House Republican leaders are pushing them to accept only modest cuts in the short-term to avoid a government shutdown. They've made the pitch in staff-level discussions, one-on-one meetings between leaders and freshman lawmakers, and a group meeting Friday with more than 70 freshman Republicans and Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, according to two freshmen who were there.
It appears the hard sell is working.
Rep. Tim Scott. R-South Carolina, a Tea Party-backed freshman who was elected by his colleagues to serve as liaison to the House GOP leadership, told CNN Monday, "the time is short for the Senate to come up with on a long-term solution so we are prepared for a short term conversation on a short term [spending bill]."
Another Tea Party-backed freshman, Rep. Raul Labrador. R-Idaho, said he is on board, but only to a point.
"After one or two short term [spending bills] you do start losing some freshman, and I'm one of them," Labrador said. "We can't continue to fund government at this rate. The reason we came to Washington, DC is to let people know we want stability back in the system. You can't legislate by short term spending bills."