Senate Democrats on Thursday began identifying cuts to the 2011 spending bill that they plan to propose to House Republican leadership in the coming days in order to avert a government shutdown after March 4.
An aide said that that Democrats will put the cuts into a proposed seven-month continuing resolution “in the spirit of trying to narrow the gap” between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over this year’s spending.
The aide said the cuts are being combed from the ones proposed by President Obama in his 2012 budget request released last week.
The aide noted that Obama proposed $24.7 billion in cuts in his budget from 2011 projects. Democrats are trying to see if some of those cuts could be made now, and will also propose eliminating $8.5 billion in earmarks embedded in the current CR funding the government through March 4. Those earmarks were approved in 2010 and continue to be funded automatically.
If all of these cuts are accepted, the Senate Democrats would be more than halfway toward meeting GOP demands of $61 billion in additional cuts this year. However, some of Obama’s proposed cuts, such as one to low-income heating assistance, face steep opposition among Democrats.
“We have said repeatedly that we are willing to negotiate cuts deeper than the $41 billion in cuts in the current CR,” the aide said, noting the difference between current spending and President Obama’s 2011 budget. “The Republicans so far have not expressed a similar willingness to move below their $100 billion. So we’re taking the first step and preparing additional cuts beyond the $41 billion.”