In recess, Senate working on budget issue

WASHINGTON (AP) - A leading Democrat says Senate officials are working behind the scenes on a budget proposal to keep the government running.

Even with the budget crisis looming, both houses of Congress are in recess this week. But Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York says that lawmakers and aides are poring over the massive budget document passed by the House in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It proposes cutting $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs. Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama oppose the House proposal.

For its part, the Senate is expected to propose holding spending at current levels. Time is short. If no compromise over the budget is reached by March 4, parts of the government could shut down.

But two other leading senators are also sounding optimistic that a government shutdown can be avoided. Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn says he doesn't think it will happen as long as lawmakers agree on ways to cut spending. Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill says she thinks "everybody can behave like adults."

Coburn and McCaskill appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Schumer spoke Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)