(CNSNews.com) - In the familiar Washington game of budget upsmanship, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is laying down the rules for majority Republicans:
"We have said from the very beginning, going back more than a year, any spending bill we have should be equal for defense and non-defense. We should have no vexatious poison-pill riders," Reid told a reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Because Congress has failed to pass 12 separate appropriations bills, lawmakers once again will try to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels beyond Sept. 30, which marks the end of Fiscal Year 2016. The alternative is a government shutdown just weeks before the November election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that the CR -- still under discussion -- will fund the government through December 9, at which point Congress will reconvene for its lame-duck session and deal with next year's appropriations bills at that time.
"And we are not going to have, and the president supports us on this, we're not going to have a C.R. loaded with riders," Reid repeated on Tuesday. "One is too many. And that's what they're trying to do." Reid said the CR will not be a "pin cushion" for partisan Republican policy.
As of July 14, the House Appropriations Committee had sent all 12 annual appropriations bills to the Senate, all of them passed in regular order. But Democrats, led by Reid, derailed many of those bills for ideological and political reasons.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) called the Democrat obstruction "regrettable." But he did compliment the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- Democrat Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi -- for getting their work done "in order and on time."
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed all 12 bills by wide margins, and Wicker pointed to a few of them:
-- The Energy and Water bill, reported April 14, unanimous vote of 30-0;
-- Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, reported April 14, unanimous vote, 30-0;
-- Commerce, Justice and Science bill, reported April 21, unanimous vote of 30-0;
-- Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, reported April 21, unanimous vote of 30-0;
-- Agriculture, May 19, a unanimous vote;
-- Legislative branch, May 19, a unanimous vote;
-- Defense appropriation, a unanimous vote.
"And on and on and on," Wicker said.
"Surely had Mr. Reid, the Democratic leader, cooperated with us and allowed these bills to come forward, we could have taken the 54 Republican senators who appreciate the fact that we've stayed within the budget guidelines, and a few of these unanimous Democrat votes from the Appropriations Committee, and gotten our vote done in regular order.
"It's regrettable that we are at this stage, but clearly a little cooperation from this end of the hall would have been very, very helpful," Wicker said.
At the Democrats' news conference on Tuesday, Reid criticized Republicans for getting so little done:
"This Republican-led Senate is -- has already worked fewer days than any time since 1956, and with their mad rush to get home again, they'll even break that record. We don't know how far to go back," Reid said. "Maybe we'll go back to the Depression years. Maybe we'll go back to World War I. They're complaining about the heavy calendar that they have, I guess. They owe taxpayers their time and they're not giving that. They want more time off..."
Reid joked that the Republicans want to rush home to campaign for Donald Trump.
"They're not doing the job that they were sent here to do. He said Democrats are not "able to do much because they're stopping everything.
We want Republicans to do their job. That's all we're asking."