Waiting for Thursday Night "Magic," Reid "Cautiously Optimistic" A Government Shutdown Will be Avoided

Declaring the efforts of the House of Representatives to tie the stop-gap government spending measure to disaster relief funding  “ill-conceived,” Democrats today called on House Speaker Boehner to “step up to the plate,” to avoid a government shutdown.

Boehner’s proposal to merge the FEMA funds with the larger government funding bill failed to pass last night in the House when Democrats rejected some spending cuts and some Republicans determined the bill didn’t cut enough overall spending.

“The path out of the impasse is so very, very clear,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., said at a press conference Thursday. “They have our bill over there, pass our bill. It’s over there. It’s a bipartisan bill. I hope they don’t try to mess with the CR. That would be so untoward if they did that.”

Reid wants the House to just pass a clean continuing resolution to keep the government functioning at the agreed upon level after a deadline next week. Then he wants the House to the a separate, Senate-passed $7 billion FEMA funding bill.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to be able to be okay,” Reid said, “it’s all up to the House.”

As Speaker of the House Boehner huddled with his party this afternoon to figure out the way forward as the government moves toward a possible shutdown, Reid suggested one other potential way forward: if the House removes the spending cuts and other measures they proposed to off-set the FEMA spending, Reid and senate Democrats will “take a look at that.”

Reid said he hopes that the House will “move to the center”… “instead of moving toward the Tea Party more than they have.”

Democrats today said one option that is completely off the table would be for Boehner to reduce spending in the government funding bill in order to win over those hard-right Tea Party votes in the House.

“They will risk a shutdown of the government if they do it,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “So Speaker Boehner is sort of in a very difficult position. He’s kind of like a basketball player who can’t move right and he can’t move left. He can’t move right because it risks a government shutdown. He can’t move left because the hardliners in his caucus don’t want him to do what’s right for the disaster victims.”

As the Republican House leadership works out what the next step would be Reid indicated that there’s room for a way forward by this evening, especially given the out-of-character quickness that Congress tends to get things done the night before a recess is due to start.

“Magic occurs on Thursday night, and so we’ll wait and see,” said Reid.

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