Congressional budget negotiations broke up before dawn on Friday without an agreement, putting the government on a path to a shutdown when financing for federal agencies runs out at midnight.
Senior Congressional officials said the negotiations in the Capitol ended about 3 a.m. and that no new talks were scheduled. President Obama late on Thursday had urged negotiators to reach a deal in the morning if possible so the government would not have to put into motion the machinery of a shutdown.
Officials said that Democrats had made concessions on both money and policy, and had moved toward the position of House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio on the overall level of spending, agreeing to $37 billion in cuts, with less of it coming from the Pentagon than Democrats had initially sought.
Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations said that proposed restrictions on money for Planned Parenthood remained the chief sticking point, and that attempts to resolve the disagreement through alternatives like allowing a separate floor vote on the issue had not been successful. Democrats said they were told by the Republicans that the votes of anti-abortion social conservatives would be needed to move any budget measure through the House.
John Boehner's PR flack told the New York Times that spending was still the primary issue, but no Republicans that are involved in the negotiations have actually backed that up. And Politico's David Rogers, who has some of the best sources inside negotiating rooms, described the negotiations as having "moved beyond spending toward social policy."
As Dick Durbin says, "This is no longer about the budget deficit, it’s about bumper stickers." And the question is: will the GOP shut the government down over a bumper sticker? My bet: no. But if they do, there will be hell to pay.