Boehner spokesman says spending cuts remain 'largest issue'

The White House and congressional leaders still have not reached a deal to avert a government shutdown set to begin at midnight.

The two sides said they had made progress after a Thursday night meeting at the White House with President Obama, but Republicans and Democrats are still sounding different message about the final sticking points on a deal.

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A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday morning said spending cuts, not social policy provisions, are the “largest issue” preventing an agreement to keep the government open.

“While nothing will be decided until everything is decided, the largest issue is still spending cuts,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email. “The American people want to cut spending to help the private sector create jobs — and the Democrats that run Washington don’t.”

The statement is a rebuttal to Democrats claiming that policy restrictions on funding for abortion and women’s health remain the final sticking point to a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday in a brief media availability that everying but a provision to cut federal support for Planned Parenthood had been settled in his negotiations with Boehner.


 He and Boehner agreed to $38 billion in spending cuts for the rest of the fiscal year, $5 billion more than the target Senate and House appropriators were working toward earlier this week, he said.

“Everything has been resolved, everything,” Reid said. “It's an ideological battle that has nothing to do with the fiscal integrity of this country. It has everything to do with the ideology on that other side of the Capitol.”

Reid said he'd introduce a one-week stopgap measure in a last-ditch attempt to avert a government shutdown.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the legislation would include an “emergency contingency pot” to fund U.S. troops involved in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The bill, however, would not fund the full Defense Department through the rest of fiscal 2011.

Alexander Bolton contributed.

This post was updated at 11:14 a.m.