House and Senate Democrats are closing in on the parameters of a continuing resolution lasting no longer than Nov. 16, possibly carrying clean, short-term extensions of expiring agriculture and children's health insurance programs but not additional Iraq war funding, aides said Tuesday.

House Democrats had originally set Oct. 26 as their target adjournment date, but now appear willing to extend their session to mid-November even if it means getting out of town before the Senate has concluded its business. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had previously set Nov. 16 as his chamber's target for adjournment, but also opened the door to a brief December session.

Final decisions will unlikely be made until shortly before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and there is some sentiment for a shorter-term CR, perhaps through October or Nov. 9. But Nov. 16 is now seen as the desired date for the House to adjourn for the year, aides said, especially since the chamber has already passed its versions of all 12 fiscal 2008 appropriations bills.

"It's a realistic target, and one that keeps the pressure on" to get remaining work done, a senior aide said, including conference agreements on domestic appropriations, another installment of Iraq war funding and authorizing measures such as the Federal Aviation Administration bill and aforementioned farm and healthcare bills.

The CR would provide a month or more of breathing room for what are likely to be intense negotiations on Iraq war spending, domestic appropriations, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and other must-do bills.

Aides said it would be a "clean" CR without pet projects for lawmakers, and minus funding for the war, which would be a risky move considering the possibility of a government shutdown if the CR is not enacted by the beginning of the fiscal year Oct. 1.

Vetoes are hanging over most of the Democrats' major legislative priorities, including their plan to spend billions of dollars more on fiscal 2008 appropriations than President Bush wants. Democratic leaders pressed Bush on the matter at a White House meeting Tuesday, but came to no resolution, aides said.

The Senate has approved three of the 12 spending bills, and is set to pass a fourth, a $106 billion Transportation-Housing and Urban Development measure. The bill contains $6 billion more for highways, bridges, airports, Amtrak, low-income housing and community development programs than Bush requested, earning it an expected veto threat Tuesday.

The Bush administration also took issue with an amendment approved Tuesday to deny funding for its plan to open the border to Mexican truck traffic.

Opponents of the Bush proposal argue safety standards have not been properly implemented, while backers say it is critical for continued trade and good relations with Mexico and has been vetted since it was first authorized as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.

Among the co-sponsors of the truck amendment are Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., both of whom are vying for organized labor's support for their presidential bids. The Teamsters Union has been urging Congress to block the Bush plan.

Also in floor action Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved an amendment by Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Republican Norm Coleman that would add up to $195 million in emergency funds to rebuild the collapsed bridge on Interstate 35W that resulted in 13 fatalities last month.

Arguing that the Minnesota bridge collapse was a "tragic example of misplaced priorities," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., offered an amendment to place a moratorium on transportation earmarks until structurally deficient bridges are repaired. But an overwhelming majority of senators continued to demonstrate support for parochial projects by tabling Coburn's amendment, 82-14.

Date Title
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9/26/07 DeMint Bill Gains Support
9/26/07 DeMint Bill Gains Support
9/26/07 Senate Looks to Fix Travel Rule
9/26/07 Senate Is Next Stop After House Passes Stopgap Funding With Little Debate
9/25/07 GOP: Earmark Rules Too Lax
9/25/07 Coburn Blocks Gun Background-Check Bill, Citing Concerns About Privacy, Spending
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9/24/07 Opinion: The new Hillarycare
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9/21/07 Opinion: When Will They Learn? Oh, the things Republicans in Congress let you pay for!
9/20/07 Senate Panel Approves Bill to Require Reports of White House-DOJ Contact
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9/17/07 Money for kid’s health in jeopardy
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9/17/07 Showdown Over Spending
9/15/07 Editorial: United Nations messes
9/14/07 Editorial: Public projects starve while Congress porks out on ‘earmarks’
9/14/07 Editorial: This little piggy
9/13/07 Coburn: Troop withdrawal is not an option
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9/13/07 Another Coburn amendment dies
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9/12/07 Senate Rejects Proposed Amtrak Cuts
9/12/07 Current record
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9/12/07 Senate Rejects Attempt to Waive Wage Rules for Work on ‘Deficient’ Bridges
9/11/07 Healthy Medical Reforms
9/11/07 Democrats, GOP Mapping Approps Strategies
9/10/07 Opinion: The Senate's Ethics Sleight of Hand
9/9/07 Column: How the Swiss do health care
9/7/07 Going Coconut over Florida earmark
9/7/07 Coburn says public should get 'disgusted'
9/6/07 Coburn stands by blockage of vet bill
9/5/07 Editorial: Health Care and Taxes
9/4/07 Opinion: Backers of health plan for kids have other motives
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9/2/07 Column: Dem congressmen worry about re-election if Clinton is nominee