Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Republicans of "blindly swinging the meat axe to the budget when they should be using a sharp, smart scalpel."
The ramifications for the spending debate in Congress go far beyond the partisan jockeying to get the upper hand heading into next year's elections. A government shutdown could become a distinct possibility. If no deal is reached before March 4, then what are merely whispers about a shutdown right now could quickly grow into full-blown threats.
Rep. Paul Gosar, a newly-elected Republican from Arizona, was asked Monday on ABC's "Top Line" if he would support a federal shutdown if Democrats do not agree to sufficient budget cuts for fiscal year 2011 in the debate leading up to the March 4 deadline.
"We wait and see," Gosar said. "I think, you know, what we've done is, we've had that adult discussion on our side -- we'll have that discussion coming about on the [House] floor. And I hope the Senate takes heed of that. And I think there's plenty of people that are listening over there with eyes wide open."
Other Republicans have gone even further. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week bragged to the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Washington that he oversaw the first government shutdown in Minnesota state history.
Those Democrats on the Senate side with "eyes wide open" want the GOP to take the prospect of a federal shutdown off the table.
"They need to say so, one way or the other. It is time for the House Republicans to stop with the games and finally rule out a government shutdown once and for all," Schumer said.