Budget negotiations break down over Planned Parenthood funding: aide

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, April 8, 2011 9:52 EDT
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Image: US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (L)
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WASHINGTON – A late-night meeting in the White House between key budget negotiators failed to produce an accord, and it appears that the government may shut down Friday night over disagreements over funding for Planned Parenthood.

“We’ve agreed on the amount of cuts, we’ve agreed on the EPA,” A Democratic aide plugged into the negotiations told Raw Story. “We’ve agreed on everything, except these guys are digging in on women’s health — and that’s the only thing this comes down to.”

The aide said Republicans are demanding the budget deal including provisions blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving federal Title X funds — which by law are to be used for non-abortion services such as cancer screenings, pap tests, and breast exams.

“We’re so close. We’re on the one yard line, but it’s a significant hurdle,” the aide said.

That’s not how Republicans tell it. They say the source of tension is still spending cuts. Conflicting reports emerged Friday morning over what exactly the sticking point is between Senate Democrats and House Republicans, with just hours to go before a shutdown.

A Republican aide told Reuters that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) differ over $6.5 billion in cuts.

But according to Talking Points Memo‘s Brian Beutler, both issues are in play — Republicans are willing to cede ground on the Planned Parenthood rider if Democrats put up several more billion dollars in spending cuts. A GOP staffer told Beutler that Democrats have capped their offer at $34.5 billion.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel would only say Friday that nothing’s finalized yet.

“While nothing will be decided until everything is decided, the largest issue is still spending cuts,” he said. “The American people want to cut spending to help the private sector create jobs – and the Democrats that run Washington don’t.”

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