Is a Shutdown-Averting Deal Close?

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 07: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to members of the press April 7, 2011 at the White House in Washington, DC. Boehner had a meeting with President Barack Obama earlier to discuss the budget proposal for FY2012, the third meeting in a few days. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) Photo: Alex Wong/2011 Getty Images

Though less than nine hours remain until funding for the federal government dries up, there are signs that a deal may be approaching. The clues? After a meeting with his fellow Democratic senators today, Montana senator Max Baucus told reporters, "I think we'll resolve it at the last minute," also adding, "We're going to get it done before midnight." In addition, Politico's Ben Smith relays this e-mail from a House staffer:

The Speaker just told a member that he thinks they will get a deal by the end of the day.

And the National Journal's Major Garrett reports:

One telling indication was the fact that Democrats, out there aggressively defending funding for community health clinics and Title X funding, were met by mostly Republican silence.

They appeared ready to back an agreement that didn't include the controversial rider concerning funding for Planned Parenthood. This might well be the face-saving concession Democrats win from Republicans as they acquiesce to $38 billion in cuts from the fiscal 2011 budget.

So Democrats will have protected Planned Parenthood, Republicans will have protected their spending cuts, and each side can claim the other side caved. It would be a relief, after all this, if a government shutdown was averted. It's less of a relief when you consider what squabbling down to the last minute over a few billion dollars says about the ability of Democrats and Republicans to work together on actual meaningful debt reduction, though, or other more consequential issues.

Baucus: "We're going to get it done before midnight." [Beltay Confidential/SF Examiner]
Optimism in the House [Ben Smith/Politico]
Muted Abortion Response Speaks Volumes [National Journal]