As the date to avert a government shutdown fast approaches, compromises are coming from all quarters. Republicans are, so far, agreeing to try to cut spending by just $33 billion, instead of their desired $61 billion. Democrats, who once rejected all of the GOP policy riders, are now beginning to look at those very items knowing they must accept some of them in order to strike a deal. Negotiators were due to turn to the riders Friday, according to a senior Congressional official close to the negotiations.
To date, the ones that have received the most attention, defunding Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio, will never be accepted by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said as much Friday on a conference call with reporters. Likewise, any effort to ax funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases.
But a tour through the scores of policy riders turns up some that could be accepted, particularly the handful that pertain to the detainees at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, also known as GITMO. Some of the provisions, in fact, have already been approved in separate legislation by Congress.
One rider says, "none of the funds appropriated...may be used to transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions (9/11 mastermind) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other detainee who is not a United States citizen or a member of the Armed Forces of the United States; and is or was held on or after June 24, 2009."
Still another forbids any detainee from being transferred to their "country of origin, any other foreign country, or any foreign entity," unless the Defense Secretary certifies such a move. The ban makes clear it does not supersede a court order, however.
And all funding for the construction or modification of detention facilities in the U.S. its territories, or possessions is forbidden for the purpose of housing GITMO detainees, a popular measure on Capitol Hill that has already been approved.
It's also possible anti-illegal immigrant fervor could be stoked up enough by a rider that dries up federal grants for "immigrant integration."
National Rifle Association (NRA) supporters, of whom there are many in Congress, could line up behind a provision that shuts down funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' program that requires licensed dealers "to report information to the Department of Justice regarding the sale of multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person."
Call it the ‘no new curtains' rider - the House voted to prohibit federal funds, set aside for House committees, from being used for "committee room upgrading."
There are others that freeze funding for certain projects and studies. That's money that could reappear in the years ahead, and therefore might be supported.
Altogether, though, it does not appear to be a heavy-lift or major compromise for Democrats to accept some of the aforementioned policy items. And this is, by no means, a finite list. To be certain, they are going to need to, if House Republicans are to sell a smaller spending cut number to their rank and file, a delicate balancing act, considering some Democrats will surely be needed to make up for the certain loss of some dug-in fiscal hawks.