"Really good news."
Those are the words of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) about the possibility that Senate Democrats will accept a two week bill to keep the government open past Friday night and cleave $4 billion in spending.
The stopgap measure is a far cry from the seven month bill that axes $61 billion in spending that the House approved two weeks ago. Many Senate Democrats signaled that legislation had little chance of surviving the Senate, let alone President Obama's veto pen. But Cantor wants to know why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won't debate that bill.
"I would suggest that there may be more people on Mr. Reid's side of the Capitol who are willing to return to '08 levels than he would like," Cantor said.
And Cantor suggested that the Senate should come around to the House's position.
"The House has acted. We don't support the status quo. And Harry Reid seems to be supporting the status quo," Cantor said.
If the sides can't hash out an agreement either later this week or in mid-March, that could trigger a government shutdown. But Cantor noted the GOP's budget goals and running the government weren't mutually exclusive.
"We can keep the government open and cut spending," said Cantor. "I think there's a false choice that you can't do both."
Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL) joined Cantor at the majority leader's weekly briefing with reporters. Roskam suggested that the GOP could continue the current strategy of cobbling together a series of spending bills to keep the government open through September 30.
"If you accept the premise that you can cut $4 billion in two weeks, you keep walking down that line of thinking and you can get to the '08 levels in seven months, you've just got to do it $1 billion at a time," Roskam said.
But Cantor indicated that House Republicans didn't want to take that approach.
"It's not our intention that that's the best way to operate," said Cantor.