Senator Kirsten Gillibrand isn’t quite ready to endorse the tentative budget deal that averted a government shutdown late Friday evening.
“We still have a budget decision to be made,” she said this morning, when asked about the impending battle over the debt ceiling, which looks to be the next front of fiscal warfare.
Gillibrand was referring to the stopgap bill that pushed back a final vote on the fiscal year 2011 budget until this week. “Those negotiations are ongoing and as soon as we have a package, I’ll have a view on that package,” she said.
While congressional leaders figure out the details, other local representatives have already made their views known. Every city Democrat voted against the stopgap bill, and this afternoon, five of them planned a rally against the $38 billion in cuts.
Asked if she agreed with Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s assessment that Democrats had been “blackmailed,” Gillibrand focused on what they appear to have won.
“Obviously the Senate fought very hard not to unwind Title X funding. I thought it was outrageous that the Republicans were trying to balance the budget on the back of women,” she said. “Absolutely unacceptable. And a line has been drawn in the sand in the Senate that we will not pass a budget under those views. So we’ll see what the next proposal is that comes out of the White House and Boehner’s office and Harry Reid, and we will look at it and assess it based on the merits.”
But there’s a general sense that Democrats are mostly playing defense at this point, and Gillibrand was quick to talk about the need for spending cuts–echoing House Republicans more than the White House, which had initially proposed a budget with minor spending increases.
“We have to cut spending and we will cut spending,” Gillibrand said. “In order to be able to move forward with a budget next year, we have to reduce spending and we have to make sure we do it in the right away, in a way that does not undermine basic safety nets for those most at risk.”
Gillibrand was speaking after a press conference with Police Commission Ray Kelly, in which they proposed a new appropriation, one that would take a slice of the country’s broadband spectrum and develop a nationwide wireless system for first responders.
“This is the kind of bill that actually pays for itself, because it gets paid for by auctioning off some spectrum that’s going to generate $27 billion in revenue to the federal government,” she said.
Gillibrand said the bill has the support of Long Island Republican Peter King and the rest of the New York delegation, and that she’s working to get co-sponsors in the Senate.