House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday that details of a
stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown when current funding
expires on March 4 will be ready “soon enough.”
House and Senate lawmakers have acknowledged Congress will not likely agree to a final bill to fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year before current funds run out in a little over three weeks.
The top-ranking House Republican revealed that he had not talked to the White House about the details of that stopgap measure, though.
Asked if he had discussions with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Boehner evaded the question by teasing reporters who were covering the House late on Friday night.
“Stop, stop, stop," Boehner said. "… I just came out here to say hi and thanks for covering” the fourth long day of freewheeling debate that has unfolded on the House floor over the GOP’s austere funding cuts.
Boehner’s revelation of a short-term measure came little more than one day after pundits seized on a comment he made that seemed to raise the specter of a government shutdown.
"I am not going to move any kind of short-term [resolution] at current levels," he said at a press conference on Thursday, which sounded alarm bells.
Democrats have railed against the funding cuts included in the GOP’s continuing resolution (CR), as the measure is known on Capitol Hill.
The CR currently being debated on the House floor is a non-starter in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
On Friday, Boehner pushed back on talk of a government shutdown, however.
“The only people in this town rooting for a government shutdown are Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. There's not one Republican talking about government shutdown. Our goal is to cut spending because it will lead to a better environment for job creation in America,” Boehner said.
He added that the unprecedented debate on the floor over federal spending was the first of many battles to come in the next few months.
“It’s going to be fascinating here over the next few weeks and months as we work our way through this, but these are going to be the most important two, three, four months that we’ve seen in decades,” Boehner said.
The House was on a path toward final passage of the CR late Friday
night, after having approved several amendments to the measure that
would defund the president's healthcare law and Planned Parenthood, as
well as other programs in the government.
Members who were supposed to have voted on a final bill before 3 p.m. Thursday hoped to wrap up debate and votes on more than 100 amendments to the CR before sunrise on Saturday.
Aides whittled more than 500 amendments submitted to the funding bills down to just over 100 late Thursday, as lawmakers approached the 70th hour of debate on a bill that traditionally does not have amendments.
GOP House leaders wanted to make good on their campaign promise of a more "open and transparent" process by allowing unlimited amendments to the CR.
Boehner reflected on the experience of unrestricted opportunities to amend a measure that funds the entire government.
“This was diving off the 50-foot diving board on your first dive. You have the whole funding of the government in one bill and as a result there were a lot of amendments but I think the members on both sides of the aisle are thrilled to death. I mean, here it is, Friday night at nine o’clock and there’s almost nobody complaining; that’s pretty remarkable," he told reporters.