Budget Talks Resume, White House Sends VP Biden to the Hill
Vice President Joe Biden and Budget Director Jacob Lew on Capitol Hill
Caryn Freeman 11:33EST
Republicans, led by Eric Cantor, sorry Speaker Boehner, threw down the gauntlet and told the Senate that if Democrats don't send conservatives in the House something they can "work with,” something that will make tea party constituents happy of course. House Republicans will default to the 60 billion dollar budget bill that passed in the House last month. This default proposal violates the Constitution but with budget talks resuming, with little more than back and forth jabs between House Republicans and Senate Democrats, it’s not surprising that the most recent proposal is another that will ultimately go nowhere and lead both parties closer to an embarrassing government shutdown. The past few weeks of quarrelling brought the Vice President to the Hill tonight and the White House finally stepped into the fight.
Vice President Joe Biden and Budget Director Jack Lew were at the Capitol tonight for a meeting with Senate leadership requested by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). For weeks House Democrats have complained that the president has been too quiet in the debate over the budget giving Republicans too much room to cut programs Democrats need in order to save themselves from more losses in the House in 2012. “The main reason to be here today is to make sure that Democrats in the Senate and the president are on the same page,” Biden told reporters “We’re on the same page.”
“We’re working off the same number now,” Biden said, referencing his conversation earlier in the day with Boehner. “Obviously, the difference in composition of that number, what’s included, what’s not included is going to be a through negotiation. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves. There’s no reason why, with all that’s going on in the world and this economy, we can’t reach an agreement to avoid a government shutdown because the bottom line here is that we’re working off the same number now. It’s about how. The Democrats are in full agreement on what we don’t want to do in that number. We don’t want to eviscerate the ability of the economy to grow. So we’re going to have a real debate.”
Words have been flying back and forth across the Capitol all day. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) have been going at each other as defacto mouthpieces for their respective parties. While neither is directly involved in budget negotiations both have a flair for the cameras and Cantors press team seems to enjoy a quick pro quo twitter rant. Either way Republicans will have to rely on Democrats to get a vote through the House. Tea Party freshmen are standing firm in their demand for deeper cuts and senior Republicans know they can't cut too deep this time around. With 241 Republicans, GOP leaders can afford to lose 23 GOP votes before needing Democratic help but with no support coming from the Tea Party caucus House republican can’t rely the majority of votes they need from Republicans.