Reporting from Washington — There were signs of progress Friday in negotiations to prevent a government shutdown, as Senate Democrats welcomed a revised plan from House Republicans for a two-week budget extension that includes $4 billion in spending cuts.
The GOP plan proposes terminating several programs President Obama called for doing away with in his proposal for next year's budget, as well as eliminating funding reserved for so-called earmarks.
"It is my hope that this CR can be passed quickly in the next week and that the president will sign it before the March 4th deadline. It is also my hope that it will garner broad support, given the short timeframe for action," said Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the proposal "closely resembles the kind of responsible cuts Democrats have been calling for."
"The 'my way or the highway' approach Republicans have been taking in the past only signals a desire for a government shutdown that our country can't afford," said Jon Summers, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. "We hope this is a sign that they have abandoned it and will work with Democrats moving forward."
House Republicans last week passed a seven-month continuing resolution with $61 billion in proposed spending cuts that would affect every state and virtually every domestic aspect of federal government operations.
Senate Democrats rejected the plan as too severe, raising the specter of the first government shutdown in 16 years if lawmakers could not come together on a revised plan when they return to Washington next week.
Conservatives who pushed the party to victory in November have pressed the GOP not to retreat from their plan, but the Republican leadership on Friday urged their colleagues to support the two-week extension.
"The American people want the government to stay open, and they want us to cut spending. We're listening," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. "The House is doing its part to cut spending and avoid a government shutdown; it's time for the Senate to take action as well."