Washington (CNN) - The high-stakes political maneuvering over government spending cuts continued Thursday as Senate Democrats for the first time said they are readying specific budget cuts they hope will satisfy House Republicans. Unless the two sides reach an agreement, the government will run out of money and shut down at the end of next week.
However, an aide for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, quickly indicated the proposed cuts don’t go deep enough to end the stalemate.
Democrats say they would save billions by speeding up proposed cuts in President Obama’s budget for 2012 and by getting rid of money for earmarks in the spending bill currently funding the government, according to a Senate Democratic aide who would not speak on the record about the negotiations. That current bill, which expires March 4, funds the government at a level $41 billion below what President Obama proposed for this year, a cost savings both Democrats and Republicans are claiming as they debate deeper cuts.
“We’ve said all along we’re prepared to negotiate beyond the $41 billion that we’ve already put on the table,” the Senate Democratic aide said. “Now were putting out a seven month offer that makes serious cuts, and we’ll see if the Republicans will be reasonable or insist on a government shutdown unless they get all their demands.”
In response, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said House Republicans would press ahead with their announced plan to vote next week on a two-week long funding bill that that cuts $4 billion in government spending while both sides negotiate a long-term measure for the rest of the fiscal year.
Senate Democratic leadership aides met Thursday with Democratic aides from the Senate Appropriations Committee to identify possible savings from two key areas, the Senate Democratic aide explained.
The first is about $8.5 billion for legislative earmarks in the current government funding bill. The second would come from a package of $24.7 billion in cuts President Obama has proposed for next year. Democrats would institute some of those cuts right away.
An exact dollar figure for the Democrats’ new proposal won’t be available until the package is finalized.