The House Republican leadership wrote to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Monday to ask them to consider imposing a federal spending freeze on the unfinished 2009 budget.
In the letter, the GOP leadership team calls for a freeze "at a time of record deficits."
A freeze "could ensure that essential government functions are carried out without any cuts while still protecting taxpayers from spending increases during a time of economic hardship," reads the letter.
Since Congress and President Bush never finished all of last year's spending bills for fiscal year 2009, government spending is currently frozen at the previous year's levels.
Congress is poised later this week to approve a $410 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the omnibus bill as the "unfinished business of last year when the president refused to address the priorities of the country."
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., called that bill "the largest increase in discretionary spending since the Carter administration." He added that he'd be happy with the Democratic leadership punting the omnibus bill and allowing the government to continue to run at last year's levels.
Pence noted, however, that the GOP has two "non-negotiables" on the budget -- funding cuts for troops and tax increases.
Republicans say that they welcomed statements from Democratic leaders "expressing the need for fiscal restraint." But Democrats appear to have already rejected the GOP proposal.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., said that a failure to spend at the federal level would impact local governments and wind up raising local property and sales taxes.
Blue Dog, or fiscally conservative Democrats said they would be happy to work with President Obama, who has called for a return to pay-as-you-go rules, which Democrats pledged to institute when they returned to the majority in 2007 but have sporadically adopted.
"This week alone, President Obama is doing more to address the serious long-term fiscal problems facing our country than former-President Bush and his congressional allies did during his entire eight-year tenure in office," said Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., Blue Dog co-chairman for communications. "The Blue Dogs will be President Obama's allies in Congress as he moves to re-institute tough budget enforcement mechanisms, such as pay-as-you-go rules, that have the force of law."