House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told rank-and-file members during a closed-door meeting that if a funding deal is struck later on Friday, steps will be taken to keep the government from shutting down at midnight. He assured the lawmakers that there would be some type of "bridge" put forth to allow the added time necessary to put the accord's details into legislative form.
Lawmakers said they understood that to mean a short-term continuing resolution would be taken up -- perhaps for a day, the weekend, or as long as a week -- to allow time for bill drafters to finalize their work.
"There'll be some sort of bridge," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. "If there's an agreement, he said we'll find a way to not shut down because of process."
But Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., emphasized that would occur "only if there is agreement" with the Senate on a final spending plan.
As the clock ticked toward a shutdown deadline, there were other signs that a deal would be struck before the midnight deadline.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told his members that while a final deal continued to elude negotiators, he remained hopeful. "Stay tuned. Keep the faith," Boehner said, according to a lawmaker in the room who asked not to be identified because conference meetings are private. The lawmaker said Boehner reiterated that the hold-up is spending cuts, and not policy riders, contrary to Democratic claims that the dollar figures were agreed to, with the dispute over abortion funding still left to work out.