House Republicans accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday of undermining progress in talks about funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.
In a coordinated series of statements, top House Republicans charged that the Nevada Democrat’s negotiating position would lead to additional spending and could force a government shutdown if a new spending measure isn’t enacted soon. The current continuing resolution that is providing funding expires Friday.
“It’s become sadly evident to me, and to the American people, that the White House and Senate Democrats are just not serious yet about enacting real spending cuts,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Boehner, Reid and Vice President Joseph Biden have been engaged for days in talks that are loosely based on including $33 billion in cuts in the spending bill.
Boehner insisted that more spending cuts would be needed, and he belittled Senate Democrats’ negotiating position.
“Their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” Boehner said in his statement. “That’s unacceptable. I look forward to continuing these discussions, but for those discussions to be meaningful it will require the White House and Senate Democrats to bring a serious proposal to carry out the people’s will of cutting spending.”
Likewise, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement, “Sen. Reid is attempting to abuse the budget process and limit the ability of Appropriations negotiators to complete their work — dictating the use of gimmicks and phony accounting to sneak more spending through the Congress and by the American people.”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor also piled on. Senate Democrats “continue to act irresponsibly by playing political games with a government shutdown by calling any effort to cut spending — no matter how sensible — ‘extreme’ regardless of the fact that the majority of Americans want to do exactly that,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement.
A spokesman for Reid responded that “Democrats remain focused on finding common ground.”
“As we get closer to a final agreement, we are confident that in the end Republicans will reject cries from the Tea Party to shut down the government and work with us on a solution that makes smart cuts while protecting our economy’s recent gains,” spokesman Jon Summers said in a statement.
Meanwhile, members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to strike a bipartisan deal by the end of the week.
“We believe that it is imperative that both Democrats and Republicans work together and make compromises to avoid a government shutdown,” the letter stated. “Until we move beyond these monthly battles on discretionary spending — which represent less than 15 percent of the federal budget — we cannot have a more serious conversation about the structural issues that plague our nation’s fiscal health.”
The letter is signed by Blue Dog co-chairmen Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.). Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza (Calif.) and Jim Matheson (Utah) also signed the letter.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.