Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has seen the House Republican proposal to cut $61 billion in federal spending and issued a counteroffer: Nothing. In a statement released today, Reid called on House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to “stop drawing lines in the sand” and “work with [Democrats] to negotiate a responsible, long-term solution.” In the meantime, until an agreement can be made, Reid said he plans to introduce a “stop-gap” resolution that would keep the government funded at current levels for 30 days:
To avoid a shutdown and give us time to negotiate a responsible path forward, I have asked Sen. Inouye, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to prepare a clean Continuing Resolution that I can bring to the floor next week. Since this bill is intended to fund vital services like Social Security, our military and border security, it should have no legislation or riders tied to it. This bill will include the $41 billion in budget cuts that Democrats and Republicans agreed to in December, and will keep the government running for 30 days while both sides can negotiate a common-sense, long-term solution.
Of course, by “include $41 billion in budget cuts” he really means zero dollars in budget cuts, because that number is based off of President Obama’s 2011 budget request, which was never enacted. The resolution Reid is proposing would continue to fund the government at its current rate. Boehner has already made clear than any spending resolution, short-term or otherwise, must include spending cuts.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) responded by calling the Democrats’ commitment to the status quo on spending unacceptable. “The American people spoke loud and clear: stop the Washington spending spree and bring down the debt,” McConnell said in a statement. “Yet Washington Democrats can’t find a single dime of federal spending to cut, insisting on the status quo, even for a short-term spending bill. But keeping bloated spending levels in place and, predictably, proposing even more tax increases, is simply unacceptable.”
The current continuing resolution expires on March 4.
UPDATE: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) responds:
The short-term CR plan that Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid announced today shows – yet again – that he is not serious about cutting spending and getting our fiscal house in order. While Leader Reid claims that his plan cuts spending, all it does is lock in the status quo spending levels which increased 24% over the past two years. I challenge him to identify a single cut from current spending levels included in his plan.
Leader Reid also claims in his statement that Republicans are threatening to shutdown the government, nothing could be further from the truth. As I said this morning, a government shutdown is not an acceptable outcome, and I again call upon Leader Reid to commit take that threat off the table and find areas to actually cut spending from the levels we are currently operating at. We need to work together so that we can keep the government functioning and take the first steps toward getting our fiscal house in order to foster an environment where businesses can grow and create jobs. Leader Reid’s smoke-in-mirrors version of spending cuts doesn’t pass the smell test and it won’t get us any closer to living within our means just like every business and family throughout the country is doing.
UPDATE II: The tit-for-tat escalates, as House Republicans announce they are preparing a short-term resolution of their own. As promised, it will include spending cuts. The Hill reports:
House Republicans are drafting a short-term measure funding government at reduced levels to bring up and pass next week in order to avoid a government shutdown.
The House GOP intends to unveil a resolution later this week that would continue funding the government past the March 4 deadline on which the government would run out of money, and face a shutdown.
Republicans hope to pass the resolution, which will include cuts from current spending at a level that’s to-be-determined, early next week in order to put the onus on the Senate to act, or risk a government shutdown.