Washington (CNN) – A day after their first formal talks to forge agreement on a long-stalled bill to fund the government, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders blasted each other's proposals as insufficient and dead on arrival.
To prove it, Senate leaders Friday scheduled votes for next Tuesday on their competing bills.
In a strategy agreed to by the bipartisan leaders at their meeting Thursday, the votes are designed to demonstrate that neither bill can muster enough support to become law and therefore lawmakers on the right and left must agree to more concessions.
"We at least know where we stand," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said about the tactic.
Reid described the House GOP bill, which cuts $61 billion from current spending levels, as "reckless" and "probably one of the worst pieces of legislation to be drafted in the history of this Congress."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said the GOP bill cuts "unmercifully" from critical programs, which would damage the fragile economy and stifle job creation.
Republicans were equally critical of the Democrats' bill, which combined with $4 billion in cuts Democrats agreed to earlier this week, would cut $10 billion from current funding levels.
"The latest proposal is unacceptable and inadequate," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who wants deeper cuts in government spending.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, described the Democrats' bill as "little more than status quo," and not enough to rein in the deepening deficit.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said Democrats are not making "a serious attempt to cut spending."
Democrats argue their bill actually cuts $51 billion in spending from what President Obama requested for this budget year. By that math, the Democrats proposal is about halfway to the GOP bill, which cuts about $102 billion using the same accounting.
However, since Obama's budget was never enacted, it may be clearer to compare proposed cuts to current funding levels. Using that method, the Republicans have called for $61 billion while the Democrats have called for $10 billion.