As Republicans attempt to move the goalposts on federal spending, Harry Reid is warning Republicans their refusal to negotiate or compromise could force a government shutdown—and that if there is a shutdown, it will be Republicans who bear the blame.
In a floor statement early this afternoon (video at top of post, full transcript below fold), Reid accused Republicans of refusing to negotiate and said that if they don't come to the table with some new ideas, they will be to blame for shutting down the federal government. Reid said that while Democrats have shown a willingness to compromise, Republicans have offered "no reasonable cuts" and have shown "no willingness to compromise and no sense of shared responsibility." Reid said we cannot "keep funding this country a couple of weeks at a time" and "if no budget passes and we cannot keep this country running, it will be clear which side will bear that burden."
In terms of style, nobody will ever accuse Harry Reid of being a bombthrower, but his speech laid the groundwork for Democrats to force Republicans to start making compromises. As Reid argued, Democrats have been doing everything possible to reach a deal with the GOP, but Republicans have not responded with any concessions of their own. As long as Democrats remain unified and consistent with this message, they have an opportunity to put Republicans on defense. That's not a guarantee that it will happen, but it is at least a sign that it could happen.
I remind my Republican colleagues once again tha this weekend's deadline is one that they set. We didn't. We asked for four weeks to work, and they demanded two weeks. They asked for March 18. March 18 awaits us at the other end of this week, so it's time to really get serious.
Last week's budget votes proved what we've been saying throughout this negotiation: we must meet in the middle. The distance between Democrats and Republicans is not measured in money only. I regret to report that so far, we remain far more divided in the willingness to compromise.
Democrats have made it crystal clear that we're determined to pass a budget. We recognize the reality that one party alone will not reach a resolution with the other party's cooperation and consent. We've accepted and acknowledged that we need to share that sacrifice. Democrats are willing to find reasonable ways to do that, and we've offered necessary cuts while strengthening our future, rather than weaken our future.
We're still waiting for Republicans to do the same. They're pretending last week's votes didn't happen. They are covering their eyes and ears to the reality that their proposal, a short-sighted bill that the tea party and House Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to support, was roundly rejected here in the Senate.
We're still waiting for them to bring something, anything, now to the table. And not only something, but something new. They haven't done that yet. Listen to the Republican speeches and sound bites and you'll hear no reasonable cuts, no willingness to offer, no willingness to compromise, and no sense of shared responsibility. You'll hear no new ideas.
We can't afford another week of these games. We cannot negotiate through the media, and we cannot negotiate if one side is unwilling to give any ground.
We can't keep funding the country a couple of weeks at a time. How many times have we heard our Republican friends decry uncertainty, claiming that it hurts job creation and that it worries the markets? How quickly they've forgotten their own advice.
So, Mr. President, it's time to lead. On this question, the Democrats have been very clear. I hope the solution is at hand, but if no budget passes and we cannot keep the country running, it will be clear which side will bear that burden.