Senate Democratic leaders urge Republicans to take government shutdown off the table

"Negotiations will take it right to the edge of the deadline," Schumer said. 


Pushing to the edge of a government shutdown "seems to be exactly what Republicans want," Schumer said. 

House Republicans are expected on Friday afternoon to release a continuing resolution that is expected to suggest upward of $100 billion in cuts from President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request, which wasn't enacted. 

House Republicans are aiming to pass a CR next week before leaving Washington for a weeklong recess. 

Spending cuts that deep will be a non-starter in the Senate, which is why the specter of a government shutdown is still hovering over Capitol Hill. 

"We know that cutting is necessary," Reid said. "Most prefer that we'd sit down and come to an agreement."

The House Appropriations Committee, which delayed release of its bill on Thursday because of pressure from Tea Party freshmen to make deeper cuts, also is expected to show how its proposed spending cuts relate to current 2010 spending levels that are in the CR. After the first batch of suggested cuts, the Republican proposal slashes $32 billion from current spending. 

An inability to reach an agreement increases the likelihood that lawmakers will need to pass a short-term measure to keep the government running while negotiations continue. 

"We'll do everything we can to avoid a government shutdown," Reid said. "It's not good to have short-term CR, but it's better than a government shutdown." 

Schumer and Reid renewed their criticism of House Republicans for "blindly" choosing a spending-cut target and struggling to make those cuts that they say are going forward with a "meat ax" instead of a scalpel. 

"It's much harder to pick a number first and then make the cuts," Schumer said. 

Reid said "we have a number of starting points" and suggested adopting President Obama's suggestion to freeze non-defense discretionary spending at fiscal 2010 levels, which he said would save $400 billion. Then program funding could be adjusted up and down based on those that need money versus those that can be cut.

"We need to come up with a program of cuts and investment as well," Reid said.