By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
9:01 AM PDT, May 20, 2011
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it would be "foolish" for Democrats to propose their own federal budget for 2012, despite continued attacks from Republicans that the party is ducking its responsibility to put forward a solution to the nation's deficit problems.
"There's no need to have a Democratic budget in my opinion," Reid said in an interview Thursday. "It would be foolish for us to do a budget at this stage."
Democrats announced Thursday that they would decline to pursue a budget, preferring to await a resolution to various bipartisan budget efforts underway. Those include the White House talks -- led by Vice President Joe Biden -- with congressional leaders to strike an accord in exchange for raising the nation's debt limit.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota said Democrats had decided to "defer" presenting their budget as negotiations continued. Conrad and Reid have said the budget could be used as the legislative vehicle for that effort.
But divisions within the party have left Democrats struggling to forge an agreement, particularly over whether to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Republicans have relished in attacking Democrats for having failed to pass a budget.
"Senate Democrats are desperately trying to avoid having to present a budget to the American people," said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the committee. "They know that the big spenders in their caucus prevent them from bringing forward a credible plan that both their party and the country can support."
By declining to put their own proposal on the table, Democrats have attempted to keep the focus on the GOP's House-passed budget and its unpopular proposal to privatize Medicare.
The GOP budget is expected to be voted on soon in the Senate, where it is unlikely to advance.
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