ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:
His meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., having concluded, President Obama came to the White House briefing room this evening to report “additional progress” had been made and “differences have been narrowed.”
But outstanding issues remain, he cautioned, ones so important – to both sides - the president said he wouldn’t express “wild optimism” that there will be a deal.
Democratic sources tell ABC News that things “feel better now” in terms of a deal being cut, but the major sticking point remains the GOP rider prohibiting any federal funding to Planned Parenthood or any of its affiliates.
The final figure for budget cuts is a work in progress – somewhere between $34.5 and $39 billion in new spending cuts - but negotiators are “very close,” one Democratic told ABC News.
Democratic officials likely will accept more spending cuts if they are not in areas they are trying to protect, such as education.
Republicans argue that Democrats should not underestimate the importance of the $6.5 billion difference between where they are and where Democrats are -- roughly put, the chasm is a $4.5 billion disagreement in total spending cuts plus Republicans are also pushing for $2 billion more in additional Pentagon spending that the White House says Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn't want.
“We are further along than we were yesterday,” the president said.
Staffs will work tonight around the clock to see if the deal can be closed.
The president said that because the “machinery of a shutdown is already moving I expect an answer in the morning. My hope is that I will be able to announce to the American people some time relatively early in the day that a shutdown has been averted, that a deal has been completed.”
Mr. Obama warned the shutdown would have negative impacts on the 800,000 furloughed federal workers, those Americans who won’t be able to get important government services, and on the economy in general.
The language in the rider stripping some powers from the Environmental Protection Agency is being “worked through,” the Democrat said. “The stickiest issue will end up being Planned Parenthood.”
The House voted earlier this year to de-fund Planned Parenthood but 41 Democrats in the Senate already have said they would not support legislation ending funding to Planned Parenthood, making the matter one that could be filibustered. The White House has said the president would not agree to any ban on funding to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using any federal funds for abortion-related services. Officials of the organization say more than 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood clinics do has nothing to do with abortion, but rather focuses on women’s health services such as pap smears and breast cancer screening.
Abortion opponents say federal funding for other services means money freed up for the purposes of conducting abortions, which they regard as ending human life.
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller
*This post has been updated