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Members this week should begin to get at least some respite from the monotonous slog of the CR war, thanks to the decision of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to unveil his fiscal 2012 budget proposal. But even that will only be a partial break since the core issues of the CR debate — spending and deficit reduction — will carry over into that fight.
So far, Members are taking leadership’s focus on the CR in stride, even if it is becoming increasingly tiring.
“Nobody is talking about fighting the current fight any less,” a leadership aide said. Nevertheless, “this other stuff is too important to get lost,” the aide cautioned.
Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans continued their halting negotiations Monday on the CR, with both sides hardening up their public positions even as they entered the final leg of talks.
On the public front, both sides continued to take rhetorical shots at one another. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) shot first, charging in a floor fight that despite progress, “Republicans and the tea party continue to reject reality and insist instead on ideology. ... The Republican Party and the tea party need to admit what Democrats have proven and what the country already knows: That neither party can pass a budget without the other party, and neither chamber can send it to the president without the other chamber.”
Reid added: “Democrats stand ready to meet Republicans halfway, and the Senate stands ready to meet the House halfway. We hope our partners on the other side are willing to be just as reasonable.”
Republicans responded in kind, accusing Reid of putting the negotiations in jeopardy. “Sen. Reid is attempting to abuse the budget process and limit the ability of Appropriations negotiators to complete their work — dictating the use of gimmicks and phony accounting to sneak more spending through the Congress and by the American people,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement.
But behind the scenes both sides were struggling to bring along their rank and file.
For instance, Boehner on Monday night was scheduled to meet with his Conference members to update them on the status of the negotiations.
Democratic leaders also had their own problems.
While much has been made about House Republicans’ unwillingness to settle for $33 billion in cuts, Congressional Democrats are also in upheaval over how deep the proposed cuts would slash the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as foreign operations funding levels, according to a House Democratic leadership aide.
Anna Palmer and Jessica Brady contributed to this report.