Dems cede lead to Biden after Hill budget talks end in bickering

After suffering a setback in the first round of the budget fight, Senate Democratic leaders will hand Vice President Joe Biden the reins in negotiations with Republicans over 2011 spending levels.
Negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have ground to a stalemate, prompting Democrats to bring in the White House to make a new round of offers to the House GOP.

“The White House is inviting both sides to negotiate a long-term solution led by Vice President Biden,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference. “If Republicans are serious about negotiating a responsible compromise, they should accept this invitation immediately and get to work.”

Last month, Reid appointed his chief of staff, David Krone, and Boehner tapped his top aide, Barry Jackson, to negotiate a settlement. But a deal to set spending levels for the rest of 2011 does not appear to be on the horizon.
Senate Democrats have been working to identify cuts to the 2011 federal budget their party can support.
“We’re submitting those ideas to the White House, and we expect them to incorporate them in a seven-month offer they will bring to those negotiations,” Schumer said.
“The White House is involved fully — you can see that by Vice President Biden heading the negotiations,” said Schumer. “We want to be at one with the White House.”
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the White House would take a larger role after talks between the House and Senate degenerated into public recriminations.
“They’ve been involved before but not in as public a way or with such a high profile,” Durbin said of the administration.
House Democratic and Republican leaders exchanged their latest volley of accusations Wednesday morning.
Boehner accused Reid of not having a plan to rein in spending, while a spokesman for Reid criticized Boehner for letting the House GOP leadership get pushed around by Tea Party-backed freshmen.
“I’m not sure whether Senator Reid has a plan to cut spending and keep the government running," Boehner said at a speech to the Credit Union National Association, according to excerpts of prepared remarks. "If he does, I think the American people would be interested in seeing it. If he doesn’t, I think he owes the American people an explanation."

Jon Summers, Reid’s spokesman, fired back.
"That’s tough talk from someone who is being bossed around by a bunch of freshmen,” he said. “It's surprising that the Speaker of the House is unaware that the Senate is voting on a bill to fund the government and cut spending this morning.”