During an exchange on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Rand Paul signaled that he thinks House Republicans want to spend too much money.
The Kentucky Republican sparred with Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., over the terms of a "clean" continuing resolution. Durbin favored reviving lapsed appropriations (and thus ending the government shutdown) at an annualized rate of roughly $986 billion.
That's the level that House and Senate leaders agreed upon. It's higher than the $967 billion figure that kicks in with the sequester, but below the number favored by Senate Democrats in their budget resolution: $1.058 trillion.
Democrats are pushing the case that accepting the continuing at the $986.3 billion (or $988 billion) level represents a concession on their part.
Paul, however, suggested the number should fall below even the $967 billion number that the House has used in drafting fiscal 2014 appropriations bills. When Durbin sought consent for a clean CR at the middle number, Paul wanted to lower it.
"I'm not opposed to a clean CR. If we want to have a clean CR at a level at which we can balance the budget, I'm for it. I'm all for it," Paul said on the floor. "If you'd accept a modification of a top-line number of $940 billion to replace $988 billion where appropriate throughout the continuing resolution, I can support your unanimous consent for a continuing resolution to go back over to the House."
"Let's have a clean CR, but we need to do it and restrain the growth of government because your party has added so much that our country is drowning in a sea of debt," Paul said. "If you will agree to $940 billion to replace $988 billion where appropriate, I would agree to your consent."
Durbin, of course, would have no part of that; he objected to the modification.
"This was a number negotiated between Speaker Boehner and the majority leader. Speaker Boehner said this was a number that he could pass, and since we took a $70 billion cut in the budget resolution that has already passed in the Senate, I will not agree to further cuts in the programs," Durbin said.