House Republican leaders pushed back aggressively Tuesday against the decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to introduce a stopgap funding measure next week without budget cuts, but they maintained they do not want a showdown between the two chambers to result in a government shutdown.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that if Reid won’t schedule a vote on the continuing resolution that the House passed Saturday morning, then another short-term bill would need to pass that also cuts spending. The House-passed bill would cut spending by more than $100 billion below President Barack Obama’s 2011 request. The current continuing resolution keeping government agencies funded expires March 4.
“Senate Democratic Leaders are insisting on a status quo that has left us with a mountain of debt and a stalled economy with unemployment near ten percent,” Boehner said in a statement. “Republicans’ goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government, not to shut it down. Senator Reid and the Democrats who run Washington should stop creating more uncertainty by spreading fears of a government shutdown and start telling the American people what — if anything — they are willing to cut.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also continued to dispute Democratic claims that House Republicans are in favor of a government shutdown.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the Virginia Republican said.
“As I said this morning, a government shutdown is not an acceptable outcome, and I again call upon Leader Reid to commit [to] take that threat off the table and find areas to actually cut spending from the levels we are currently operating at,” Cantor said in a statement. Reid’s proposal “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.”
But Senate Democrats are pushing for a short-term spending measure that does not include the dramatic cuts House Republicans have made.
“It would be the height of irresponsibility to shut down the government without any negotiations, as Republicans are threatening to do,” Reid said in a statement. “A shutdown could send our fragile economy back into a recession, and mean no Social Security checks for seniors, less funding for border security and no paychecks for our troops.”
Reid argued Tuesday that passing a 30-day extension at current spending levels would allow negotiations to begin in earnest over where cuts should be made for the rest of the fiscal year.
“I have asked my chief of staff, David Krone, to begin negotiations with Speaker Boehner’s chief of staff, Barry Jackson, to craft a long-term continuing resolution that cuts waste and excess, while protecting the initiatives that keep us safe, put Americans back to work and keep our economy on the right track,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement.
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.