Cantor, Schumer tussle over 'progress' in spending negotiations

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said late Friday that negotiations on a spending bill for the rest of 2011 are not going well, upping the chances of a government shutdown when current funding runs out April 8. 

Cantor reacted to comments made earlier in the day by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said that talks were progressing and a compromise on how much should be cut this year was near. The two sides have remained some $50 billion apart on proposed spending cuts.

“Senator Schumer's comments this morning that the negotiations on a long term solution to fund the government for the remainder of the year are going well are completely farfetched,” he said.

“Leader Reid, Senator Schumer and the White House continue to abandon their responsibility to get our fiscal house in order by negotiating off of the status quo and refusing to offer any sort of serious plan for how to cut spending,” Cantor added.

But Schumer fired a Friday evening statement back in reply to Cantor, assigning blame for any discord to the GOP.

"After days of positive negotiations, with significant flexibility shown by the Speaker, the House Republican leadership is back to agonizing over whether to give in to right-wing demands that they abandon any compromise on their extreme cuts," Schumer's statement read. 

Schumer had said earlier that staff level talks about a long-term spending bill were to occur on Friday.

Cantor's statement tried to assign blame to Democrats for a possible shutdown.

“House Republicans continue to offer serious solutions to get our fiscal House in order, but we cannot keep doing it alone. If Senators Reid and Schumer insist on shutting down the government because they want to protect every last dollar and cent of federal spending then that will be on their hands,” he said.

To which Schumer's replied: "The Speaker knows that when it comes to avoiding a shutdown, his problem is with the Tea Party, not Democrats. Instead of lashing out at Democrats in a kneejerk way, we hope House Republicans will finally stand up to the Tea Party and resume the negotiations that had seemed so full of promise."

The comments which started the back and forth came on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday. Schumer said progress was being made in budget negotiations.

“And the good news is there's been progress made on the number. We've moved up from our $51 billion in cuts; they're moving down, and we're getting closer on the number. Here's the sticking point: it's where you should cut,” Schumer said.

This story was updated at 6:30 p.m.