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The Los Angeles Times

Government Shutdown in Budget Battle May Hinge on Clean Air, Abortion

'These matters have no place in a budget bill,' Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says. Democrats and Republicans are basically agreed on spending levels, he says, but divisions on abortion funding and clean-air rules may stymie a deal, resulting in government shutdown.

Kathleen Hennessy

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), left, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) make remarks about the budget impasse after meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday. (Reuters / April 6, 2011)

Washington— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats and Republican in Congress have essentially agreed on spending levels for the rest of the year, but a budget deal is being held up by a split over policy measures related to abortion funding and clean-air regulation.

Reid said the divisions made him more pessimistic about the chances of passing a compromise deal before a Friday deadline, resulting in a government shutdown.

"It looks like it's heading in that direction," Reid said in remarks on the floor Thursday morning.

The remarks came the morning after Reid, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met for nearly two hours at the White House to hammer out a deal. Reid said congressional and White House staff worked through the night. He did not detail the number of cuts he claimed were settled.

"The numbers are basically there, that's where we are," but other more contentious matters remained unsettled, he said.

The parties will meet again at the White House on Thursday afternoon, 35 hours before government funding runs dry.

House Republicans continued to push for policy measures attached to their initial spending plan, Reid said. Those include a proposal related to funding for abortion and a measure that would block the federal government from regulating greenhouse gasses.

"These matters have no place in a budget bill," Reid said. "We should not be distracted by ideology – this is a bill that funds that government."

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times.

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