House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told members of the House GOP conference in a closed-door meeting that he hopes a final budget deal can be reached by Friday evening, a top House Republican told reporters Friday afternoon.
Boehner “said he was hopeful that he could come back in a couple of hours and bring us back together and have a deal,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a close ally of the speaker.
McKeon added that Boehner told members the policy provisions known as riders “are resolved and the fight is now about money,” a point that Boehner himself made in a news conference earlier Friday.
Senate Democrats have disputed that, contending that progress in the talks is being held up over a Planned Parenthood rider.
“The number has been agreed upon; last night, it was agreed upon,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters at a news conference Friday afternoon, referring to the $38 billion cuts that Democrats say Republicans agreed to. “All we need for them to say is that the agreement that we made last night will be fulfilled.”
Senior congressional aides said that at a White House meeting Thursday night, Democratic negotiators rejected a proposal by Republicans that would have made the issue of Planned Parenthood funds a matter to be decided by the states rather than by Congress.
Some rank-and-file Republicans leaving Friday’s closed-door meeting charged that Democrats were “not being honest” on the Planned Parenthood issue.
“When they get out and say that this is about ideology and policy riders when it comes to abortion, that clearly is not what the issue is from our leadership and from our perspective,” freshman Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters after Friday’s closed-door meeting that the issue of “ChIMPS” – Changes in Mandatory Programs – was still a factor in the talks.
“That’s still in the discussion,” Rogers said.
Both the House and Senate are still in session, with the House expected to vote soon on a measure regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. The measure currently funding the government is set to expire at midnight.