Reid: Parties’ Spending Proposals Separated by $6 Billion

Posted March 29, 2011 at 3:00pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that Senate Democrats and House Republicans are $6 billion apart on an overall spending level for the current fiscal year, but Republicans have refused to return to the negotiating table.

“Why are the Republicans afraid to negotiate?” the Nevada Democrat asked.

“Our latest proposal is $70 billion. That’s $6 billion away from the proposal of the Republicans. … These numbers are clearly in the same ballpark, yet the Republicans have stopped walking. In fact, they are walking in the other direction,” he said.

“Why are they afraid? They are afraid to tell the extreme tea party members of their caucus that they are trying to find common ground with Democrats,” he said.

Reid’s numbers are based on President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget request. The Democratic plan represents a $30 billion cut from the fiscal 2010 spending level, and Democrats said Republican leaders were willing last week to agree to a $36 billion cut.

However, Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said that no agreement is imminent.

When asked whether the two proposals are $6 billion apart, Steel said, “No. We are still talking. But nothing will be decided until everything is decided — and that includes policy restrictions.”

Reid spokesman Jon Summers said Democrats are inviting Boehner back to the bargaining table, where they would give him the details of their proposal.

John Stanton contributed to this report.