House lawmakers voted to raise the overall 2020 budget limit to $1.3 trillion Tuesday, allowing appropriators to begin work on spending bills, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell later told reporters bipartisan budget talks are underway, Defense News reported.
The House set a $733 billion top-line for national defense as part of a “deeming resolution” used to bypass a contentious Democratic debate on a related bill to lift 2020 and 2021 spending limits for defense and non-defense spending.
Congressional Progressive Caucus members want more nondefense spending and plan to lobby House appropriators, but Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) downplayed their hopes Wednesday.
“When they become chair of the Appropriations Committee, they can figure it out,” Lowey said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he is involved in budget talks with President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to possibly raise the current two-year spending caps.
McConnell said a “staff-level” working group has been created as part of a “bipartisan desire” to avoid another stopgap continuing resolution and $126 billion in automatic cuts.
“I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of a bipartisan agreement,” McConnell said.
Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer