Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they would stand by President Obama’s call for a five-year freeze on spending while criticizing House Republicans for slashing the budget.
Ahead of a meeting this afternoon at the White House between Obama and Senate Democratic leaders, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCBO: 18 million could lose coverage after ObamaCare repeal Week ahead: Trump's health pick takes the hot seat Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-N.Y.) said some in his caucus want to go further, hinting that deeper cuts are still possible.
Senate Democrats have yet to show their cards in negotiations with House Republicans and the White House over a spending measure to keep the government funded this year. House Republicans expect to vote this week on a measure cutting current spending by $61 billion, which Obama and Democrats say would hurt the economy.
“The House Republican spending measures would gut our ability to create jobs, they would roll back investments, and make America non-competitive in the future,” Schumer said.
But Schumer faces pressure internally from Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns in 2012, such as Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillGOP must avoid Dems' mistakes when replacing ObamaCare Live coverage: Mattis confirmation hearing for Pentagon Mattis's views on women in combat takes center stage MORE (D-Mo.), who want to cut spending further than Obama.
A Senate Republican aide ridiculed Senate Democrats for embracing the five-year freeze, which the aide said would do little to reduce the $1.6 trillion federal deficit projected for 2011.
“Everyone in the country is criticizing Obama’s budget because it doesn’t go far enough, and they’re going to embrace the part that locks in the status quo on spending?” said the aide.
Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe Ryan says Trump, GOP 'in complete sync' on ObamaCare Congress has a mandate to repeal ObamaCare MORE (Nev.), Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinDems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe Cubs celebrate World Series win at White House HUD finalizes rule to protect children from lead MORE (Ill.), Schumer, and Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.) are expected to attend this afternoon’s White House meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Predicting Trump foreign policy 'like a Rubik's cube' Poll: Obama leaves office with 58 percent favorability Biden prays Trump will continue cancer moonshot MORE.
Senate Democrats also unveiled their agenda for 2011 at Wednesday’s press conference, a month and a half after the start of the new Congress.
They said they wanted to wait until Obama laid out his vision for governing in the State of the Union address and that they had an opportunity to discuss it at a retreat in Charlottesville, Va., last week.
“We deliberately wanted the State of the Union to come first so that the president could lay out the broad framework, and we’re now filling in the details,” said Schumer.
On the agenda: Reid plans to finish work on the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill, extend authorization of the Patriot Act and surveillance laws, and then move to a patent reform bill drafted by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate panel sets vote on Sessions for AG Obama admin injects another 0M into global climate fund Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes MORE (D-Vt.).
Democrats also plan to focus on a highway bill, expand access to Internet broadband, build an energy efficient smart-grid, help the domestic manufacturing sector and crack down on alleged Chinese currency manipulation.