By Mike Lillis - 03/14/12 12:18 AM EDT
House Republicans are setting up the possibility of another government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Tuesday, if they renege on last year’s spending agreement.
Reid got in his opening shot before the GOP released its 2013 budget blueprint, which it’s expected to announce early next week.
“This was designed to avoid another government shutdown or a threat of a shutdown. If they renege on the law, the agreement, they’ll be forcing yet another government shutdown. … That’s ridiculous.”
House GOP leaders, behind Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), are “on track” to release their 2013 budget proposal next week, Ryan’s office said Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Republican has spent much of the year trying to iron out differences within the House GOP over what level of spending the proposal should authorize.
Some Republican members want the Ryan plan to cap 2013 discretionary spending at $1.047 trillion, others have proposed $1.028 trillion and the most conservative Republicans are pushing for $931 billion.
House Democrats have said they will offer an alternative.
Reid noted that the debt-ceiling deal Congress reached last August already set discretionary caps through 2013.
“We were able finally to get a budget agreement for this fiscal year,” Reid said. “This wasn’t only a handshake, a pat on the back. It was a law we passed.”
Budget proposals are never adopted in their entirety, but they do provide a comprehensive record of each party’s priorities — policies that can very quickly become political ammunition, particularly in an election year.
Reid conceded that, with Democrats controlling the Senate and White House, Ryan’s budget bill doesn’t have “a chance in the world” of becoming law. Still, the majority leader warned that Congress has more important things to do than rehash past debates.
“Our economy cannot afford another one of these senseless demonstrations by the Tea Party,” Reid said. “We have major challenges to face together; this isn’t one of them. We can’t afford to reopen battles that have been resolved long ago.”
In April 2011, the threat of a government shutdown loomed over budget talks between President Obama and House Republicans. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was under pressure from the Tea Party, whose members favored a government shutdown over smaller spending cuts. A deal was eventually reached.
August 2011 witnessed another battle over raising the debt ceiling. Under an agreement that passed both chambers of Congress, the two sides settled on cutting government spending levels over the next 10 years.