Bipartisan Budget Talks Start out Slow

Budget talks among House and Senate leadership staff and White House officials have made little headway as they enter their second week.

“I believe that we’re nearing a point … that we’re going to have to start making some decisions,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday. So far, the two sides have started discussing possible offsets to pay for higher discretionary spending levels.

While little progress has been made, top Democratic appropriators are calling on negotiators to reach agreement on a new topline spending level by early November so they have time to craft an end-of-the-year spending bill by the Dec. 11 expiration date of the current continuing resolution, reports CQ.

The overarching goal for Democrats is to strike a deal to raise the Budget Control Act spending caps for fiscal 2016 and 2017 before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) steps down at the end of the month. With House GOP leadership elections dominating conversation through the end of the month, it’s not clear how much progress can be achieved, though.

The negotiations are at the staff level for now, but at some point will involve Republican and Democratic leadership, with appropriators left on the sidelines.

“This is being negotiated at the leadership level. This is being done by Harry Reid, [Nancy] Pelosi, [Mitch] McConnell, etcetera. What I’m providing, as is Congresswoman [Lowey], we’re providing technical assistance and advice to our leadership as they negotiate, whether it’s on offsets, the status of touchy subjects in bills and so on,” Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), ranking Democrat on Senate Appropriations, told CQ.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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