Under a Senate Republican proposal crafted by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the government would have been funded at $988 billion for the next six months. Many Senate Democrats said they could live with that number -- just not for that long.
“If we can have a short term [continuing resolution at $988 billion] to get us through, say, the first of December, that is fine with me,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told The Huffington Post.
The question, said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), was: “Are we locked into the number for what amounts to the next year, or are we going to be able to get to the point where there are budget negotiations that can work with that number?”
The concern for Harkin and King, among others, is that the party could sacrifice too much negotiating power by signing off on Collins’ plan. Under the Budget Control Act, annual spending will be reduced to $967 billion around Jan. 15, regardless of the budget at the time. Democrats want to avoid that. They've concluded that it would be a misstep to put off a motivating moment (such as a budget deal ending) for those negotiations for six months, or to go on record supporting a six-month, $988 billion budget.