House Democrats, led by Rep. Robert Andrews of New Jersey, said the GOP's plan to slash $100 billion in discretionary spending would harm America's future competitiveness.

They said that while budget cuts were necessary, the most important thing the U.S. can do to reduce the deficit is to grow the economy.

Andrews says reducing spending on to things like education will make doing so more difficult. "America won't grow if America won't learn, and America won't learn with 30 percent cuts to education."

Others pointed out their concerns about how the cuts were developed. "Republican leaders came out with cuts. The more extreme elements of their party found those to be insufficient," said Rep Tim Bishop, D-N.Y. "We need to cut, we need to grow, but let's do it responsibly."

Democrats hope to offer amendments to the spending bill, but were not optimistic about their prospects for success.

Andrews charges newly enacted House rules make it difficult to alter tax breaks, even those for industries he feels do not need them. "We're going to spend $40 billion on tax breaks for oil companies," Andrews said.

Andrews also mocked Republican efforts to push a message of fiscal discipline. Noting Republicans also ran up large deficit spending, he said, "hearing lectures on debt from them is like hearing lectures on sobriety from the town drunk."