Economic Growth Dictates Need to Raise Budget Caps, Obama Says

President Obama on Friday urged Congress to use the 10-week reprieve provided by the stopgap spending bill he signed last week to negotiate a long-term budget deal that lifts the statutory spending caps.

“It’s time to undo them,” Obama said during a news conference at the White House, reported CQ. “If we don’t, then we will have to fund our economic and national security priorities in 2016 at the same levels that we did in 2006.”

As Democratic leaders had stressed the day before, the president indicated lawmakers need to wrap up an agreement soon.

“I want to be very clear. I will not sign another short-sighted spending bill like the one Congress sent me this week,” Obama said. Congress “can’t flirt with another shutdown” in December.

The president has threatened to veto any fiscal 2016 spending bills that would increase defense spending without providing additional money for domestic programs.

While there is common ground between Obama and GOP defense hawks regarding the need to provide budget relief for the Pentagon, the president’s call for higher domestic spending is not shared by most Republicans. The only hope for a deal is if Republican leaders accept lifting the domestic spending caps in return for higher defense spending. And with hard-line conservatives succeeding in forcing House Speaker John Boehner to step down, the prospects for striking a deal are even less certain than they were prior to Boehner’s surprise announcement.

The most likely outcome in the absence of a bipartisan budget deal would be for Congress to pass a full-year continuing resolution. It is worth noting that on Friday Obama never said he would veto a CR that locks in current spending levels for the rest of FY 2016, according to the story.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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