Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dismissed the House GOP's move to pass another stop-gap spending measure on Wednesday evening, a few hours before he is slated to meet with Speaker John Boehner (R-Oho) at the White House.
Reid's attacks on the House's one-week offer that also funds the Department of Defense for a year, was the latest message from the Hill that a deal to keep the government running is not imminent.
"Instead of solving the crisis the way we should, instead of saying 'yes' .. what they're going to do is pass what they'll call another short-term stop-gap measure," Reid said of the Republicans. "They'll say it's short-term but what that really means is it's a short-cut around doing our jobs. Instead of solving problems, they're stalling. They're procrastinating. That's not just bad policy, it's a fantasy."
Reid insisted that, like President Barack Obama, Senate Democrats do not believe that America should be living "paycheck-to-paycheck."
When Boehner floated the short-term measure at a White House meeting earlier this week, Reid and Obama were said to have dismissed the deal out of hand. Earlier Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said it was a deal Democrats never took seriously. By late Wednesday afternoon, House Republicans had placed the stopgap bill on their docket and scheduled a vote for Thursday.
"We all heard the President of the United States say yesterday we won't accept anything short of a full solution. And why should he?," Reid continued. "You can't keep funding our great country with one stopgap after another. The United States of America, this great country of ours, shouldn't have to live paycheck-to-paycheck."
With a looming Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown, Obama invited Reid and Boehner to talk again within the confines of the White House. But both Democrats and Republicans are firm in their positions. Democrats say $33 billion in cuts is enough. Republicans want $40 billion. Democrats say the controversial policy riders are a non-starter. Republicans want them considered. All the while, a senior administration official said 800,000 federal workers could be affected if the negotiators don't strike a deal.
"We want to avoid a shutdown and the terrible consequences that would follow. The only thing Republicans are trying to avoid is making tough choices," Reid said on the floor.
When the majority leader opened the floor earlier Wednesday, he came bearing a similar message. But perhaps in a sign of what was to come by day's end, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed to the one-week proposal -- and the Democrat's rejection of it -- as a sign Reid and the White House were not serious about keeping the government funded and that the blame ultimately would fall on them.
"Throughout this entire debate, Republicans have not only said that we'd prefer a bipartisan agreement that funds the government and protects defense spending at a time when we've got American troops fighting in two wars. There is a Republican plan on the table right now that would do just that," McConnell said. "Democrats can accept that proposal, or they can reject it. But they can't blame anyone but themselves if a shutdown does occur. Because they've done nothing to prevent it."