Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused Republicans on Thursday of protecting corporations even as they try to slash a host of federal programs in the middle of the fiscal year.
Democrats have planned for weeks to start challenging specific GOP proposals for spending cuts, while agreeing with the general need for some austerity.
House Republicans are crafting a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for the remainder of fiscal 2011, and they have vowed to cut discretionary spending by $61 billion from fiscal 2010 levels. An earlier proposal to cut $35 billion led to a revolt by conservatives, who want to stick to a campaign pledge to cap fiscal 2011 spending at $100 billion less than President Barack Obama’s budget request.
Reid accused Republicans of rushing to make as many cuts as they can.
“It’s our responsibility to remember that we’re not just taking numbers off a ledger — in many cases, these proposals may mean taking workers off the assembly line, or taking teachers out of the classroom, or police off our streets,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
He attacked Republicans for proposing cuts to the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which supports local police. “Those jobs are keeping us safe,” he said. “So cutting COPS doesn’t just put them at risk — it puts all of us at risk. ... That’s not the kind of cut Democrats can support.”
Democrats instead support eliminating “handouts to oil companies,” cutting “wasteful Pentagon spending” and “stopping the government giveaways to companies that ship jobs overseas,” the Majority Leader said.
“So far, Republicans have shown no interest in meeting us halfway and have shown every intention of protecting their rich corporate friends,” Reid said.
Democrats will consider the quality of cuts, not just the quantity, he added.
“After all, you can lose a lot of weight by cutting off your arms and legs. But no doctor would recommend it,” he said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.