Congress Shows No Signs of Budget Compromise
Monday, March 07, 2011
Congress appears to be heading toward another showdown over the budget in Washington, D.C. Republicans want to cut $61 billion in spending while Democrats only want to cut $6.5 billion.
Republicans have said the Democrats just aren't serious about cutting the huge budget deficit.
"Our priorities are out of whack," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Congress avoided a government shutdown last week by passing an extension to fund the government through March 18. That move bought lawmakers more time to negotiate.
However, they don't appear to be any closer to an agreement.
Republicans said Democrats and the White House aren't serious about cutting spending and tackling the deficit. Democrats have countered with the same charge.
"I don't believe what we have from the House is a serious economic plan," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "I think it's an ideological, extremist, reckless statement."
Democrats said the GOP plan is too extreme and they appear unwilling to compromise in adopting more cuts in areas they consider important.
"I can tell you, personally, I'm willing to see more deficit reduction but not out of domestic discretionary spending," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Both sides said given the $14 trillion debt, everything must be on the table. However, Republicans said Democrats haven't offered much in terms of ideas.
"Now Dick says everything has to be on the table, but under their plan, nothing is on the table," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.
President Barack Obama has called on Congress to work together on cuts that won't slow the economy's recovery. However, the huge divide between the parties makes it uncertain just how soon they can get it done.
"We are only seven months away from the end of this fiscal year and we don't have a budget, which is kind of ridiculous," said Bill Daley, White House Chief of Staff. "No company could get away with that."
Critics say the president isn't doing enough and is squandering an opportunity to make some fiscal headway.
"This is the perfect time to do it," McConnell said. "We control part of the government. They control part of the government. It could be done in a very, very effective way."
So far, the only agreement seems to be avoiding a government shutdown. However, with serious disagreements and little time before the next deadline, even the potential shutdown appears to be a topic for debate.