By Molly K. Hooper - 03/10/11 05:58 PM EST
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called on Democrats on Thursday to “get serious” about budget negotiations.
With little more than a week until a temporary government funding measure expires, Boehner said Democrats haven’t presented serious offers on spending cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Boehner said, “Yes, the Senate has moved several times. Remember, for months it was ‘No cuts.’”
But Boehner said Democrats' offer to cut $6.5 billion did not go far enough.
“I think it’s time for them to get serious — and they’re not serious, and it’s time to get serious about cutting spending, and the talks are going to continue but they aren’t going to get very far if they don’t get serious about doing what the American people expect them to do,” Boehner told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated Thursday he’s ready to compromise on spending after the House GOP spending-cut bill won more votes in the Senate than the Democratic alternative — though both failed.
Boehner blamed Democrats for creating the “mess” that has consumed most of Congress’s time since Republicans took control of the House in January.
“Listen, [House Republicans are] trying to clean up last year’s mess. The Democrats did no budget, they did no appropriations bills, and as a result, they’ve dumped this in our lap and we’re trying to clean it up,” Boehner said at a press conference.
The House passed a funding bill last month that would cut $61 billion from current spending to fund government operations through Sept. 30, the end of the 2011 fiscal year. The Senate rejected that plan Wednesday.
A two-week stopgap funding bill that cut $4 billion in spending to avert a government shutdown expires March 18.
House Republicans are preparing an additional short-term measure to continue government funding, while the two sides negotiate the long-term bill.
On Wednesday, the Senate defeated the House-passed continuing resolution, as the funding bill is known, as well as a version offered by Democratic leadership.
Boehner refused to “negotiate with myself” over the amount of cuts that would be acceptable to House Republicans.
He shot down an idea floated in the Senate to widen current funding debate to include entitlement spending.
“They don’t seem to be able to understand that the American people want us to cut spending. ... To try to muddle the current issue with entitlement programs, and tax increases, that’s what the next budget process is for, and we’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about that,” Boehner said.