Washington (CNN) - Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York criticized Republican demands to cut spending in a short-term spending resolution that would continue funding the government while negotiations persist on a longer-term plan.
Appearing Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Schumer said compromise is necessary to avoid a government shutdown that will be bad for everyone.
"Here's the bottom line: we have said shutdown is off the table," Schumer said. "Speaker (John) Boehner, (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, other Republican leaders have not taken it off the table when asked and there are lots of people on the hard right clamoring for a shutdown."
The current funding law expires March 4th and lawmakers are attempting to reach a short-term deal before leadership works out a more permanent resolution. However, Boehner said Thursday that Republicans will not accept any extension of government spending without cuts to the current levels.
On Saturday the House passed a Republican measure to cut federal spending by $61 billion below current levels, which is $100 billion below the president's budget request for 2011 that was never enacted.
Republicans contend it is Democrats pushing the process toward a shutdown by ignoring the need for immediate and substantive spending cuts.
But Schumer said Democrats already agreed to $41 billion in cuts below the president's 2011 budget request – which is roughly the same as 2010 levels – and are now preparing "an emergency stop-gap measure to keep the government going so there's not a shutdown."
"What we're proposing is that for a short time – a couple of weeks – we continue that $41 billion level while House and Senate negotiators come up somewhere in the middle," he said. "We are saying, 'Negotiate,' and they're saying, 'Do it my way' before any negotiations even begin."
Schumer warned that a government shutdown would be "dangerous for the American people."
"It's wrong, it would hurt innocent people, hurt the economy," Schumer said. "And we hope we can come to the table and negotiate without shutting the government down."
Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana stressed the severity of the situation and "imminence of a government shutdown," urging the president to call the Congressional leadership together.
"This is a time for presidential leadership because it is crucial… (that) we do not have a government shutdown," Lugar said on CNN. "But we must have reductions that are very, very substantial and the Senate must have an opportunity to act upon them as well as the House."