Let the Budget Talks Begin: Biden to Lead First Meeting on Bipartisan Spending Negotiations Today

Mar 3, 2011 10:25am

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:

Let the budget talks begin.

Vice President Biden will be on Capitol Hill at 4p today to start negotiations between Congressional Democrats and Republicans on a long-term spending deal.

Now that Congress passed a stop-gap bill earlier this week, lawmakers have until March 18 to strike a deal that will fund the government through the rest of this fiscal year and avert a federal shutdown.

The Senate's top Republican Mitch McConnell said he will attend today's meeting. But that doesn't mean he has high expectations for the talks.

"We're happy to go to the meeting, but putting a meeting on the schedule doesn't change the fact that neither the White House nor a single Democrat in Congress has proposed a plan that would allow the government to remain open and that would respond to the voters by reining in spending," McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning. "All we get is talk."

"If the president's measure of success as he said is a plan that makes sure we live within our means the way most people do, count on me showing up early," he added. "Unfortunately I suspect the president is once again just saying things people want to hear. The fact is if Democrats had a plan of their own that would cut one dollar in spending, I think we would have seen it by now. But we haven't."

Republicans have expressed reluctance to start negotiations on a long-term deal, saying that Senate Democrats should either come up with a plan of their own that cuts spending or simply take up the House-passed bill with $61 billion in cuts.

Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called that GOP stance “shallow” and “foolish," while the Senate’s number-two Democrat Dick Durbin remarked that it would take “a super-human effort” from both sides to reach a long-term deal.

Also attending today's meeting will be House Speaker John Boehner, the leading House Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and Reid.

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