Recognizing that many voters, especially independents, like the idea of federal spending cuts, Senate Democrats are trying to identify places in outlays where they can propose trims House Republicans might agree to.
House Republicans passed a package almost a week ago that would fund the remainder of the current 2011 fiscal year but cut $61 billion from current spending.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said cuts of those magnitude were unacceptable.
But Democrats realize that offering no, or too few, cuts in the current political climate isn't tenable. So they are working on their own Democratic package, according to a report in The Hill.
Placing further pressure on Senate Democrats was a warning from House Speaker John Boehner that House Republicans won't agree to even the briefest of extensions to government spending past a March 4 deadline if Democrats don't sign on to serious cuts.
No agreement on spending would lead to a partial government shutdown, the first since the mid 1990s. That's an outcome that frightens lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
An excerpt from The Hill:
An aide said that that Democrats will put the cuts into a proposed seven-month continuing resolution "in the spirit of trying to narrow the gap" between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over this year's spending.
The aide said the cuts are being combed from the ones proposed by President Obama in his 2012 budget request released last week.
The aide noted that Obama proposed $24.7 billion in cuts in his budget from 2011 projects. Democrats are trying to see if some of those cuts could be made now, and will also propose eliminating $8.5 billion in earmarks embedded in the current CR funding the government through March 4. Those earmarks were approved in 2010 and continue to be funded automatically.
If all of these cuts are accepted, the Senate Democrats would be more than halfway toward meeting GOP demands of $61 billion in additional cuts this year. However, some of Obama's proposed cuts, such as one to low-income heating assistance, face steep opposition among Democrats.