Reid blasts House GOP proposal as 'draconian' and 'unworkable'

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid knocks Ocasio-Cortez's tax proposal: Fast 'radical change' doesn't work Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy Harry Reid on Iraq War vote: 'It tainted my heart' MORE (D-Nev.) blasted a House Republican proposal to cut $32 billion from 2011 spending levels as “draconian” and “unworkable.”

Reid promised to work hard to avert a government shutdown that he warned would inflict grave harm on the economy.

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Reid told reporters Thursday that he is willing to negotiate with House Republicans over a bill to keep the government funded beyond March 4.

“We are happy to work with Republicans; we recognize that there has to be some long-term financial austerity,” Reid said.

“We’re not burying our heads in the sand; we recognize we need to do some things,” he added.

But he called a proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism Anti-Defamation League calls on House leaders to censure Steve King over white supremacy comments MORE (R-Wis.) to cut this year’s federal budget by $32 billion “unworkable.”

“The chairman of the Budget Committee today, today sent us something even more draconian than we originally anticipated,” said Reid. “So this isn’t some game that people have been playing. The House of Representatives [is] actually sending us some of these unworkable plans.”

Republicans have threatened to block a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond early March, as well as legislation raising the national debt limit unless Democrats agree to significant spending cuts.

Reid warned that threatening a government shutdown or blocking an increase in the national debt limit would be playing “Russian roulette” with the economy.

Reid declined to rule out spending cuts in 2011 but said he wanted to first review a deficit-cutting proposal being negotiated by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Conrad is in talks with GOP Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Deutsche Bank targeted by Dems over Trump ties Senators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying MORE (Idaho) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (Okla.), who sat on President Obama’s fiscal commission.

“Before we talk about any budget-cutting, we have to see what Conrad comes up with,” Reid said after the press conference.

Senate Republicans noted that Reid, Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump AG pick: I won't be 'bullied' by anyone, including the president Live coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing Senate Dems set to take aim at new Trump attorney general pick MORE (Ill.) and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Dem chair meets Trump health chief on drug prices | Trump officials sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work rules | Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions We can’t tackle climate change if we ignore the main polluter — transportation Hoyer introducing legislation to block Trump from lifting sanctions on Russian companies MORE (D-N.Y.) voted against legislation to increase the debt limit in 2003, 2004 and 2006, when Republicans controlled the Senate and White House.

Republicans have accused Democrats of raising the specter of a government shutdown to score political points.

“As Republicans focus on constructive ways for the two parties to work together on cutting spending and debt, Sen. Schumer seems strangely preoccupied with the notion of a government shutdown,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Mellman: Why does the GOP persist? Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight MORE (Ky.).

“It is our hope that he soon realizes the only person talking about a shutdown is Sen. Schumer,” Stewart added. “Most Americans and even many in his own party have come to realize that the gravity of our current fiscal problems calls for constructive dialogue that will lead to serious cuts in spending and debt.”