As they opened “negotiations with Republicans over budget cuts, the White House and Congressional Democrats on Thursday offered to trim an additional $6.5 billion from current spending, a figure far short of the Republican goal of cutting agency budgets by $61 billion,” the New York Times reports.
The gap between the opening Democratic bid and the cuts already approved by the new House majority illustrated the difficulty the two parties faced in reaching a compromise before the March 18 expiration of a two-week budget bill even with more participation by the White House.
To test support “for the competing plans and lay the groundwork for a compromise, officials said that Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, planned to allow debate and votes on the proposals next week to demonstrate that both parties would need to make concessions in any agreement on financing the government through Sept. 30.”
The plan to push the spending dispute onto the Senate floor emerged after a high-level meeting presided over by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The Congressional participants — Speaker John A. Boehner; Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader; Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader; and Mr. Reid — had no comment after the hourlong session, leaving it to Mr. Biden, who issued a short statement.
“We had a good meeting, and the conversation will continue,” Mr. Biden said.
In floor remarks this morning, McConnell said this “latest proposal is unacceptable, and it’s indefensible.”