Senate leaders optimistic about avoiding government shutdown
March 5th, 2013
06:36 PM ET
9 years ago

Senate leaders optimistic about avoiding government shutdown

Washington (CNN) - The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate sounded upbeat Tuesday that a deal will be reached with the GOP-controlled House over a government spending bill before March 27, the day the government runs out of money.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll reach a deal before we leave here for the Easter recess,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters after a caucus with other Democratic senators. “So what remains to be seen is whether this move - and apparently away from a crisis - is truly a shift in the strategy from Republicans, or just a short break from extremism that they’ve had over the last few years.”

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“There seems to be no interest on either side in having a kind of confrontational government shutdown scenario,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. “And even though these things sometimes develop at the end, I’m optimistic that we’ll get through this process in a constructive way.”

But the path to passage for the nearly trillion dollar bill, known as a continuing resolution or C.R., has been complicated by $85 billion in automatic spending cuts required by the deficit-reducing sequester. The key sticking points facing negotiators include how to modify the forced spending cuts to dampen their impact on national security, jobs and the economy.

House Republicans will vote on their bill Wednesday. It allows the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs to shift money around and prioritize certain programs. But Democrats say they want to offer some of that same flexibility to key domestic agencies too.

McConnell acknowledged that Democrats will “want to have some imprint” on the measure and that there has already been “a lot of a communication, back-and-forth” with House Republican leaders about how to include Democratic priorities.

“We are now looking at how we can fashion a hybrid that makes sure we meet the national security needs of the nation but also compelling human priorities and the kind of investments we need to make in science and technology for the jobs of the future,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, the chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Asked about what Mikulski wanted, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, appeared at least to be open to it. “We’ll see what they send over,” he said.

While it remains to be seen if passage of the C.R. will play out as smoothly as Reid and McConnell predicted, no one doubts the two parties will return to their fighting stances soon as they consider broad deficit reduction plans ahead of the debt ceiling debate this summer.

Filed under: Budget • Harry Reid • Mitch McConnell • Senate
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Ind.

    So congress is optimistic hu? Aren't they always?

    March 5, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. Norma Vessels

    Please, Democrats, don't let the Republicans in the House, help the Defense department ... but, leave all of us
    out in the cold.

    March 5, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. rob

    Harry Reid... “So what remains to be seen is whether this move – and apparently away from a crisis – is truly a shift in the strategy from Republicans, or just a short break from extremism that they’ve had over the last few years.”

    "Short break from extreemism" Harry reid is the most patheticly partisan inarticulate hack that ever pretended to be in a leadership position in history. This is the person who is responsible for almost 4 years of no Govt budgets being passed in the Senate. He and the Dems use the CR, which allows spending to continue without appropriations in committees, mark ups and VOTES, so Senators don't have to go on record indicating where they stand on this out of control Debt.

    God forbid the Dems take back controll of the House in 2014, it may mark the end of our political way of life. It truly seems as if they are aiming for the decline of the United States as the leader of the free world. Since the accention of the US as the world leader, there is more freedom and less poverty than ever in the history of the planet.

    March 5, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  4. Marty Rogers

    "Easter recess" when are these bozos NOT on recess???? 700,000 contractors and federal employees about to lose their job or part of their salaries and these "public servants" are talking recess while these people are trying to figure out how they are going to pay their bills? sickening.

    March 5, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. Mike Texoma

    I welcome the optimism. It is the first step, if not sequentially then in importance, toward a meeting of the minds.

    March 5, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. cbr

    These two leaders have helped to make this big mess in Washington. They have the power to get this country moving again and instead they are doing nothing. Sen. Reid Has not learned how to work toward compromise in the Senate. Sen. McConnell continues to sit on his hands even thought the American re-elected President Obama, kept the Senate under Democratic Control and narrowed the numbers in the House. All of the leaders have let us down. WE need to let them know we want action and we want it now. If we each write to our Senator or Rep. or to the President they just might get the picture. Meanwhile this picture says it all.

    March 5, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. wade

    Even though the GOP has moved heaven and earth to please the DEMS the DEMS will still find a way to screw it up.

    March 5, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. rs

    Don't count the chickens until the TEA Party members in the House squawk. And they will, it is another chance to attack America.

    March 5, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  9. wiseup

    Senate seems to be able to work together when critical issues com up. the House is a different story. The traditional repubs and the T-pubs. they can't agree on any thing together. For the Traditional repubs want any thing passed they have to count on dems. support (votes).

    March 5, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  10. Grumpy2012

    The Republican strategy is simple. Keep funding the government at 2012 levels while waiting for the Senate to produce a budget.

    But based on the Senate's record, we may be using Continuous Resolutions in 2016.

    March 5, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  11. wwf

    Every time I turn around, you people are going on break. You people talk about entitlements. What a joke. The complete entitlement is a politician. Everything is paid for by the peons. Your wages, healthcare (which we cannot afford), your retirement, expenses, and your TIME OFF!!!!!. Why not try working for those who pay for your entitlements for once. Better yet, don't. My heart could not take the shock.

    March 5, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  12. wwf

    I think you have your parties mixed up. you would not know the truth if it hit you between the eyes. Turn off fox and Lush for a while and learn to think for yourself.

    March 5, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. king

    I wouldnt take nothing the repubs say and run with it, because if they feel obamawill get.any benofit they will change their minds, because they are scared to get primaried from the right. These peoplehas held this country hostage forthe past 4 years, just because they didnt like obama. They sat by and watch our countrys infrastructue crumnle onto dust, as they watch china modernized and take all of wall street money. All they yap anout is take the middle class and poor money and give it to wall street to invest in china then holler about our job situation.

    March 5, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  14. Larry L


    God forbid the Dems take back controll of the House in 2014, it may mark the end of our political way of life.
    You'd like to extend our current state of "political life"? The Republicans in the Senate filibusters their own initiatives! Republicans offered a clown car of candidates nuttier than squirrel droppings. They could never win the general. We The Tea Party group in the House offers toxic bills filled with social conservatism riders like "personhood" and 31 votes to repeal Obamacare – doomed from their origin. America is split to the point where Red States are discussing secession? The problem is the radical Republican Party! You can't build bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the farce of trickle-down economics. Fat-cats are trying to get votes by firing up the fearful, Fox News drones.

    March 5, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |