The Senate will consider a two-week stopgap bill "within 48 hours" to fund the federal government before turning its attention to a longer-term continuing resolution for fiscal 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday.
Reid's move came as the House on Tuesday approved a two-week CR, despite White House entreaties to pass a four- or five-week CR.
"We'll pass this and then we'll look at funding on a long-term basis," Reid said.
Democrats appear to be on board with the $4 billion in proposed cuts in the GOP's stopgap CR; the figure includes $1.2 billion in cuts gained by ending funding for eight programs also proposed in President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget proposal. Another roughly $2.8 billion would be saved by cutting funds for about 50 earmarks.
Earlier on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called for at least a month-long CR. "Our goal here is that we get a continuing resolution that is clean. That deals with the spending cuts we can agree on. We do believe if $4 billion in cuts over two weeks is acceptable, then $8 billion over four or five weeks is something we can agree on." The White House first let its preferences for a monthlong CR known on Monday night.
But Reid said he would not push the White House proposal, saying House Republicans had rejected all Democratic proposals. The current CR expires March 4, and a failure to reconcile different versions of a CR would lead to a government shutdown.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, seconded Reid, saying he didn't think Republicans would support the White House's plan. "I think it will be two weeks," he said.
Before Reid's statements, House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, did not rule out the possibility of the Senate changing the package, and he declined to speculate whether the House could pass the measure with any changes.
"I know what the House is going to do today, and that is we're going to cut $4 billion and keep the government open until March 18," Boehner said. "I can't predict what the Senate will do or wants to do."
In laying out the week's schedule, House Republican leaders had scheduled the last votes of the week for Thursday but had warned members that votes on the CR might be needed on Friday.
Reid had hinted on Monday night that Democrats might change the GOP proposal; his hint came when he filed cloture on a House-passed bill ending federal financing for presidential candidates.
Using a House-passed bill as a "shell" with a Senate measure inserted as a substitute is a standard step to get around the constitutional requirement that such bills originate in the House.
Billy House contributed to this report.