An agreement to avert a government shutdown is near “impossible” unless Republicans drop policy riders from a funding bill, leading Senate Democrats said Thursday.
“Unless they back off those riders it’s going to be impossible, pretty much, to prevent a shutdown,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the party's messaging chief, following a caucus meeting.
Democrats throughout Thursday have characterized the riders to strip federal funds for Planned Parenthood and parts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the key sticking point in negotiations on a spending measure to fund government the rest of the fiscal year.
Schumer and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) both said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had offered standalone votes on the riders in the Senate, only to be rebuffed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
“Harry Reid offered that to Boehner,” Durbin said. “We're going to make this offer, and we have.”
Republicans have denied that the riders are the main sticking point, as well as Democratic claims that a basic agreement on spending had been reached.
“Maybe a promise could be made to let all those riders come up for a vote separately,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). “I think there's a willingness in this caucus to have that be offered.”
House Republicans who insist on including those riders in the current spending fight likely realize that the most controversial provisions, such as the Planned Parenthood and EPA measures, would likely fail in the Senate. That chamber’s rules would require 60 votes to surpass procedural obstacles.
Democrats are mindful of that.
“They know their riders can't pass the Senate,” Schumer said.