Freshman House Democrat: Budget Deal Appears to Reflect GOP Priorities

Apr 11, 2011 2:39pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

By controlling the White House and the Senate, Democrats had two of the three seats at last week’s budget negotiating table.

But Democrats aren’t all happy with the agreement that averted a government shutdown late last week.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, freshman Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., said that while he’s reserving judgment on the $38.5 billion in cuts until he sees more details, he’s concerned that it follows the broad outline of the budget priorities endorsed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“We obviously have to look at what’s in that proposal. But if it reflects the same kinds of priorities that are in the Ryan budget, which is the Republican budget, then I won’t support it,” Cicilline told us.

“And I think we all have to be very serious about cutting spending and we have to be serious about reducing the debt. But we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery that has begun, that creates jobs and gets the American people back to work. … So I’m obviously going to look at it very carefully, but in its current form if it reflects the same kind of priorities that are in the Republican proposal for the coming year, then of course I won’t support it.”

Cicilline also said he’s skeptical of any efforts to cut Medicare and Medicaid, as the president is expected to outline this week in an effort to control government spending.

“I think we have to give the health-care reform bill an opportunity to work,” he said. “We invested a lot in the development of that legislation, and it’s going to produce a lot of savings. I think that’s the first step, but certainly guaranteeing that our seniors have access to quality health care has to remain a priority in our budget. And I’m going to fight to make sure that’s a priority in the budget the Republicans pass.”

The former Providence mayor also addressed the gaping budget shortfall in his hometown – a deficit that his successor has suggested is in part a result of his avoidance of tough choices.

“I’m responsible for every decision I made in the eight years I was mayor. And the eight years that I was mayor we were able to balance the budget every year that I was here, and maintain A ratings from our rating agencies.”

He continued: “So each year we chipped away at that gap and made real progress and did it while maintaining A ratings from our ratings agencies. In the last two years we had a very serious cut in state aid –over $50 million was cut from the city of Providence, which created a tremendous challenge. …. So what we face in the city is what cities and towns all across Rhode Island and certainly all across our country are facing for the very long recession.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. David Cicilline HERE.

We also previewed the budget votes on tap in the House this week with Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner, who said she expects about 50 House Republicans to oppose the final 2011 budget deal.

Watch the discussion with Susan Ferrechio HERE.

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