House Republicans apparently have a new plan for avoiding a government shutdown.
According to news reports, the House GOP plan would fund the federal government for two weeks but cut $4 billion from current spending.
Last week, House Republicans passed a spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year which ends in September that would reduce federal spending by $61 billion from current levels.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that a stopgap spending package, or continuing resolution, for the remainder of the year with such deep cuts is unacceptable. The Obama White House has also threatened to veto legislation with deep cuts in programs it considers vital.
The House GOP's latest move is a counteroffer to Reid's proposal a day earlier for a 30-day extension with spending frozen at current levels.
House Speaker John Boehner has said Reid's proposal is a non-starter.
Pressure is high on both sides to reach an agreement to avoid a partial government shutdown that could cause significant disruptions and unpredictable political fallout.
Republican aides say the cuts in the two-week spending bill would be proportional — or pro-rated — to reflect the levels in the first measure. That means cutting about $4 billion over two weeks. The plan is tentative and the contours of the measure are still being crafted.
It's House Republicans' opening bid in a war of attrition that pits their promise to slash spending against Senate Democrats' refusal to allow any cuts on a short-term bill. If no one backs down by March 4, the government will shut down. House Republicans want to leave the hot potato in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hands.
Congress returns next week from its week-long Presidents' Day recess, leaving very little time for the sides to reach agreement before the March 4 witching hour rolls around.