Speaker John Boehner challenged Democrats to “get serious” about spending negotiations on Thursday, the day after the Senate failed to advance a House GOP spending plan to cut $61 billion as well as a smaller Democratic alternative.
“I think it’s time for them to get serious, and they’re not serious,” the Ohio Republican said. “It’s time to get serious about cutting spending.”
Senate Democrats indicated Thursday morning that they might be willing to cede some ground to Republicans. Boehner, however, declined to indicate what level of cuts — below the $61 billion that the House approved last month — he might be willing to agree on.
“I’m not going to sit up here and negotiate with myself,” Boehner said, when pressed on what spending level he might accept.
The Speaker said negotiations with Democrats would continue.
“But we’re not going to get very far if they’re not doing what the American people expect of them,” he said.
Boehner said Republicans, who took control of the House in January, were “trying to clean up last year’s mess” with their seven-month spending proposal that passed last month.
“The Democrats did no budget, they did no appropriations bills, and as a result, they dumped this in our lap, and we’re trying to clean it up,” the Speaker said.
Still, Boehner said he was optimistic that Republicans — who are crafting a second short-term continuing resolution to fund the government past March 18 — could strike a deal with Democrats to avert a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he is opposed to a second short-term CR.
“This is not going to be easy,” Boehner said. “Our goal — as I’ve said many times — is to cut spending and keep the government open because cutting spending will lead to a better environment for job creation.”
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.