The White House's first compromise in the debate over keeping the government funded this year ó a proposal to make $6.5 billion in cuts ó is "unacceptable" and "unserious," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday.
The Kentucky Republican ripped into the White House for kicking off budget talks with Hill leaders by proposing a level of cuts nowhere near the $61 billion in cuts backed by House Republicans. Vice President Joseph Biden and other top White House officials met with Congressional leaders for the first time Thursday to try to resolve the dispute over funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
"Even more outrageous, they say that this proposal meets us 'halfway,'" McConnell said during remarks on the Senate floor. "I won't get into their tortured justification."
The White House maintains that their latest proposal puts them just over the halfway mark of what Republicans are ultimately after: a $100 billion reduction from President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request. By adding the $6.5 billion in newly proposed cuts to the $41 billion in cuts in a continuing resolution that expires Friday, plus the $4 billion in cuts in the two-week stopgap that Obama signed Wednesday, White House officials maintain they are on track to making $50 billion in reductions from Obama's budget.
"We've essentially met them halfway by their measure," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said during a Thursday briefing. "So that's a starting point for this discussion."