Today on a conference call with reporters, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer blasted House Republicans over their refusal to negotiate on spending cuts. It left a strong impression that America should prepare itself for a government shutdown on March 5th.
The call was held as a response to Republicans shooting down Harry Reid's offer to keep the federal government operating for 30 days at 2010 spending levels while negotiations over deeper cuts take place. If federal government funded non-discretionary, non-defense spending at 2010 levels during 2011, it would result in a total of $41 billion in spending cuts.
Some highlights of Reid and Schumer's remarks:
- Above all, Reid and Schumer decried the House GOP for demanding pre-conditions (aka, specific cuts) to any negotiations. They repeatedly described the GOP demand for pre-conditions as unserious, bad faith, and not adult. "Next they will be negotiating over the size of the conference table," Schumer added.
- Reid said Senate Dems were willing to go along with deeper cuts than the $41 billion proposed in his continuing resolution. However, since even those cuts were very difficult for the Democratic Senate caucus to accept, any further cuts needed to be worked out in negotiations with Boehner. He would not negotiate through the press by specifying which cuts he would agree to beforehand.
- Schumer said that many Republicans, such as Sarah Palin, wanted a government shutdown. He said they are trying to use "the threat, and God forbid, the actuality, of a government shutdown to get their way."
- Schumer said John Boehner was a reasonable man, but that he needed to stand up to Republican freshman in the House who were not in Congress during the 1995 shutdown.
- Reid said that Senate Democrats would not go along with the numerous riders that House Republicans had attached to their spending bill on matters like abortion. "How do they expect us to go along with that? We're not going to."
I've heard Harry Reid speak on a number of occasions, and this was most strident I've ever heard him. It gave me the sense that something similar to Wisconsin may be coming to the whole country, and soon.