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Senate Democrats Try Leading

Douglas Graham/Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid helps introduce Democrats’ “Winning the Future” agenda Wednesday.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said the bipartisan patent reform bill will be on the floor after next week’s recess, also said he has spoken to Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who is writing a Senate version of the continuing resolution to counter the Republican plan based on a spending freeze.

Even as they slammed Republicans, however, Democratic leaders said they hoped to work with them. Reid said he was pleased to see Obama reach out to Republicans on the deficit Tuesday and is reaching out himself.

“We are really trying very hard to work on a bipartisan basis,” he said.

Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Democrats understand the need for spending restraint, noting Durbin’s support of the president’s fiscal commission plan to cut deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade as well as their support for the spending freeze, which would save $400 billion over a decade.

“The day will come, and I hope soon, that we’ll be at the same table” and negotiating a deal, Durbin said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, derided Democrats for lining up behind Obama’s “timid” proposal for a spending freeze.

“Don’t they realize that current levels of spending are the reason we just had the biggest wave election in a generation? The senior Senator from New York seems to think that anything short of freezing current spending levels is extreme,” the Kentucky Republican said.

“I’ll tell you what’s extreme: Extreme is to insist in the middle of a jobs and debt crisis that government has to spend a trillion dollars more than we take in every year.”

House Republicans also ripped the latest Senate Democratic plan as more of the same.

“The Obama-Reid plan advocates a so-called freeze that locks in bloated spending levels, which increased 24 percent over the past two years, and then takes any spending reductions and immediately ‘invests’ them back into more big-government spending,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said. “The status quo is not an acceptable or serious plan and was overwhelmingly rejected by the people in the last election. It would continue to lead us down the road to massive debts, deficits and follows the flawed philosophy that Washington knows best when it comes to job creation and economic growth.”

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