Reid says Dems are open to spending bill riders

Those riders are unlikely to make it into a final budget deal; Reid has specifically warned that a deal will not include any measure to defund Planned Parenthood.

But experts have said lesser riders — including one that would cut funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for signs announcing stimulus projects or for a regulation restricting aid for students at for-profit universities — could be acceptable to Democrats.

Reid said Senate Democrats and the White House have met Republicans “far more than halfway” with their budget plan. Using 2010 spending as the baseline, Democrats are proposing $30 billion in total cuts, including $10 billion already enacted in two short-term measures.

Republicans have demanded $61 billion in cuts — in part at the insistence of Tea Party-backed freshmen. House leaders had originally proposed about $35 billion in cuts.

Reid noted that, using Obama’s 2011 budget request as a baseline, Democrats are offering $70 billion in cuts compared to the original Republican demand for $76 billion in cuts.

He said there is enough time to cut a deal before government funding runs out April 8, but parties need to move quickly given the difficulty in bringing votes in the Senate. There is also a House rule requiring three days' time between when a bill is introduced and when it can be voted upon. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters the discussions were being threatened by comments from some Democrats. He cited reports that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had instructed fellow Democrats, during a press call, to label Republicans “extreme." He also said Howard Dean had indicated he would be cheering for a government shutdown if he were still Democratic National Committee chairman.