Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used his first floor speech since the Presidents Day recess to call on Democrats to join Republicans in cutting spending.
"Between maintaining the status quo on spending or cutting spending, the choice could not be more clear," said McConnell Monday on the floor of the Senate.
House Republicans have passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year, which cuts $61 billion in spending. It now rests in the Senate. House Republicans are also putting together a stopgap measure that would fund the government for the next two weeks in order to prevent a government shutdown, should the measure fail to pass the upper chamber. The short-term measure cuts $4 billion in spending.
McConnell proceeded to repeat a common refrain among Republicans, calling overspending and the deficit the "top threat to our economy."
"Washington's inability to live within our means is the greatest single threat to our future," said McConnell. "Democrats in Congress need to rethink the approach they have been taking up to now. Stop spending money we don't have."
McConnell endorsed House Republicans' stopgap measure, and targeted President Obama's 2012 budget proposal for freezing the budget rather than making deep cuts.
"At no point in this projection does the government spend less than it brings in," said McConnell. "It doesn't even try. They want to spend hundreds of billions more than we bring in. And on, and on, and on."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also came to the floor, but limited his words to setting the Senate floor schedule for the rest of Monday.
The Senate remains in a period of morning business until 3.30 p.m.