Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Possible Two-Year Budget Deal is in the Works

Congressional budget negotiators are working to wrap up a two-year fiscal agreement that would put to rest the threat of a government shutdown in mid-January and bring order to a tumultuous budgeting process until after the 2014 elections. 
Lawmakers must still overcome significant obstacles, including last-minute pressure from Democrats seeking a renewal of expanded federal unemployment benefits and labor unions opposed to proposed cuts in federal employees' pensions.
Still, officials close to the talks say that Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), chief negotiators for their parties, are closing in on a deal that, while smaller in scope than past budget deals, would mark a rare moment of bipartisanship in a Congress that has been lurching from one fiscal crisis to the next. 
Officials say they expect the compromise to allow spending of roughly $1 trillion in each of the next two years, a figure between the $967 billion that House Republicans sought for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and the $1.058 trillion sought by Senate Democrats. The precise amount cannot be determined until negotiators iron out remaining differences over what deficit-reduction measures would be used to offset the cost of raising the spending cap.
If none of the outstanding challenges prove to be deal-breakers, officials predict the agreement would be reached by early next week, in advance of House plans to adjourn for the year on Dec. 13. 
"They are very close," said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), a member of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating the agreement. "Both sides very much want to achieve a deal."
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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