Seeking to appease Republicans who want sweeping, immediate budget cuts, the White House yesterday put forward a plan to cut $6.5 billion in the next seven months. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that the Senate will vote on the budget plan next week, but Republicans are saying it doesn't go far enough.
Lawmakersthis week by passing a two-week budget plan that cut $4 billion. Congress managed to agree to the two-week plan after finding themselves at an impasse over the House Republican plan to cut about $61 billion from the rest of the 2011 fiscal year budget.
In an effort to draw up a budget for the rest of the year, Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting with Congress to find areas of agreement. The $6.5 billion in cuts agreed to from the White House include more than $1 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency and $500 million from unobligated funds for WIC, a federally-funded health and nutrition program for women, infants, and children. The plan also cuts $500 million in Justice Department grants to state and local governments, as well as $425 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to state and local governments, among other things.
Reid said today he wants the Senate to vote on the plan Tuesday, as well as the House Republican plan to cut $61 billion.
However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor today that the proposal is "unserious."
"What they are proposing is little more than one more proposal to maintain the status quo to give the appearance of action where there is none," he said. "The latest proposal is unacceptable and it's indefensible."
McConnell said that voters "want us to cut spending to help create a better environment for job creation."
Similarly, House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement today asking, "When will Democrats get serious about cutting spending?"
Democrats say their proposed cuts will reduce government spending without majorly disrupting the fragile economic recovery.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said in a statement today that the House bill would ultimately cost taxpayers more money because of the premature termination of federal contracts. Additionally, he said, it would cause backlogs in Social Security claims, close poison control centers and have other detrimental impacts.
"The House bill would jeopardize our economic recovery at a critical time, and severely disrupt the ability of federal agencies to carry out even their most basic functions," he said. The White House/ Senate plan, he added, "is a good faith effort to meet in the middle. It is now time to end political gamesmanship and stop gambling with people's lives and livelihoods."