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Senate Dem leader Reid sees no 'grand bargain' at budget talks

Oct. 24, 2013 at 5:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says speculation about a budget "grand bargain" being struck with Republicans is just "happy talk."

The Nevada senator told public radio station KNPR-FM, Las Vegas, in a recorded interview broadcast Thursday the most he expects to come out of the House-Senate budget conference is relief from automatic across-the-board spending cuts required under the sequestration law that would trim $23 billion from military spending next year.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are to convene the budget conference committee Oct. 30. But Reid says hopes negotiators will work out a "grand bargain" on the budget including overhauling entitlement programs is "happy talk."

"I hope that we can do some stuff to get rid of sequestration and go on to do some sensible budgets -- budgeteering," he said on the Nevada Public Radio station.

"It's really hard to try to be rational and logical with people who are illogical and not rational," he said.

Asked what Democrats would seek in return for Medicare and Social Security reforms, Reid said: "That is not going to happen this time. There is not going to be a grand bargain. What we need to do is have Murray and her counterpart in the House, Ryan, work together to come up with something to get out of this senseless sequestration and start the budgeting process so that we can do normal appropriation bills."

Reid said House Republicans would have to agree to more tax revenue to open negotiations on a big budget deal. However, he said the Republicans were so damaged by the 16-day government shutdown they will not repeat threats to block a hike in the federal debt ceiling or delaying the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

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