McConnell: Senate Republicans may not endorse all specific House spending cuts
Senate Republicans are committed to the level of spending cuts that House GOP leaders have proposed for the current fiscal year, but may not endorse every detail of the House plan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
"We're going to try to achieve the same reduction in total that we hope will be achieved on the House side later this week," McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters. "We'll see whether the Senate wants to establish different priorities."
The House is debating a temporary spending bill that would fund the federal government through Sept. 30 but at a level $61 billion below what federal agencies had been expecting. Democrats have accused Republicans of taking a "meat cleaver" to the government, seeking "draconian" cuts at the expense of vital services and hundreds of thousands of federal jobs.
The House on Tuesday voted to proceed on the GOP plan, 242 to 174.
It is expected to hold a final vote on the so-called continuing resolution by week's end. More than 400 amendments have been filed, and GOP leaders said the chamber would hold votes on as many proposed changes as they could schedule before the House adjourns for a week-long recess on Friday.
The current continuing resolution, approved in December, expires March 4, leaving Congress little time to resolve vast partisan differences.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he wouldn't rule out the worst-case scenario, a government shutdown, if the parties can't find agreement. Senate Democrats said they would propose their own cuts, totaling far less than what the House is seeking, but Reid and his colleagues haven't released details yet.
"I have concern about what I understand the C.R. is drifting toward in the House. Of course we're concerned about the numbers. Trying to balance the budget, using a little over 10 percent of our entire budget, it's -- you really have to focus on that, being very hard to do," Reid told reporters Tuesday.
A shutdown, Reid said, is "what we're trying to avoid...but with the Republicans headed in the direction they are, of course it's a possibility, and that's too bad."
| February 15, 2011; 3:34 PM ET
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