On Capitol Hill, Budget Bill Gets Mixed Reception
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
As NPR's David Welna reports, the bill is getting a mixed reception on Capitol Hill.
DAVID WELNA: The selling of the shutdown-averting budget deal began in earnest today at the capitol. And perhaps the biggest salesman of all was the man who negotiated the deal on behalf of Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Harry Reid. He was pleased, he said, to have reached a budget deal in time to keep the government running.
HARRY REID: And I'm pleased that the budget will make historic cuts, saving the country money so we can lower our deficit and do a better job of living within our means.
WELNA: Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, for his part, touted the deal as proof his party is now driving the terms of the budget debate.
MITCH MCCONNELL: The ground shifted and spending reductions Democrats recently described as extreme and draconian, they are now calling historic and common sense. The debate has turned from how much to grow government to how much to reduce it.
WELNA: California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said President Obama and leader Reid had prevailed over Republicans.
BARBARA BOXER: Overall I think it was really a magnificent - and this is my words - performance by my leader and by the president in a circumstance where the other side was taking an ax to this budget and they were throwing women and children and the environment under the bus.
WELNA: Idaho Republican Senator Jim Risch is voting against the budget deal.
JIM RISCH: When, in fact, the cuts are so de minimis, they're almost unnoticeable and the American public starts thinking we're actually doing something up here, when we aren't.
WELNA: Another GOP senator, Kentucky's Rand Paul, sent a letter to colleagues urging them to oppose the bill.
RAND PAUL: People talk about cuts, but we will spend more in 2011 than we spent in 2010. Our budget deficit will be bigger in 2011 than it was in 2010. And I don't know that our country can withstand deficits of 1.5, $1.6 trillion.
WELNA: Some Democrats also have strong reservations about the budget deal. One of them is Iowa senator Tom Harkin.
TOM HARKIN: There's a lot of things around here that you hold your nose and vote for. I can vote for it, yes. But in my own mind, I'm drawing some lines as we go forward in 2012 and in the future.
WELNA: David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.
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