Time short, tempers flare in US budget showdown


WASHINGTON (AP) — With the clock ticking toward a possible government shutdown, spending-cut talks between Senate Democrats and the Republicans controlling the House have broken off in a whom-do-you-trust battle over legislation to keep operations running for another six months.

Democrats have readied a proposal to cut $20 billion more from this year's budget, a party official said, but they haven't yet sent it to House Republicans. That's because they say it's unclear whether the majority Republicans would accept a split-the-difference bargain they'd earlier hinted at or will yield to demands of tea party-backed GOP freshmen for a tougher measure.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

"Republicans refuse to negotiate," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday. "The infighting between the tea party and the rest of the Republican Party — including the Republican leadership in Congress — is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table. And it's pretty hard to negotiate without someone else on the other side of the table," the Nevada Democrat said.

Republicans countered that it's the Democrats who have yet to offer a serious plan to wrestle spending under control and that a Democratic offer from last week to cut $11 billion from the budget was laced with gimmickry.

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