Senate Democrats sign onto Obama's five-year spending freeze
Senate Democrats on Wednesday announced that they will support President Obama's proposed five-year freeze on domestic discretionary spending, a move that comes as the White House and congressional Republicans do battle over the president's budget proposal for the next fiscal year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.) announced their agreement to the spending freeze at a Capitol news conference at which they also outlined a legislative agenda aimed at creating jobs and boosting American competitiveness. The Senate Democratic leaders made the announcement hours ahead of a scheduled White House meeting with Obama and Vice President Biden Wednesday afternoon.
"'Winning the Future' is about making smart choices that cut waste and excess while creating jobs and keeping America competitive," Reid said at the Wednesday news conference, referring to the White House slogan coined by Obama in the State of the Union address. He was flanked by large signs bearing the words "out-build," "out-educate" and "out-innovate."
"We also need to live within our means, that means reducing government spending and cutting the deficit. That's why Senate Democrats support President Obama's five-year spending freeze."
The White House and congressional Democrats have estimated the freeze would save the government $400 billion over the next decade and would bring domestic discretionary spending to the lowest level since the Eisenhower administration.
Republicans on Wednesday renewed their criticism of the plan as a "timid" move that would do little to address the country's serious worries. In a floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to contrast the spending freeze proposal with House Republicans' efforts to cut $61 billion in federal spending for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September.
"We find one party in the House of Representatives making a genuine effort to cut spending and debt, and we find Democrats in the Senate announcing today that they intend to line up behind the President's timid proposal for a partial spending freeze," McConnell said. "In other words, Democrat leaders in Congress intend to join the President in resigning themselves to a future of growing debts and deficits at a time when Americans are demanding cuts instead."
The Senate Democratic leaders said the decision on agreeing to the spending freeze was reached at last week's Democratic retreat in Charlottesville, Va. The legislative agenda outlined by the leaders on Wednesday includes measures such as the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill currently being debated in the Senate as well as infrastructure initiatives, a patent-reform bill and a measure that would penalize China for allegedly manipulating its currency.
| February 16, 2011; 2:41 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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