Lawmakers Nearing Deal On Federal Spending
The negotiations discussed Wednesday would cut federal spending by about $33 billion.
“We’re all working off the same number now,” Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday night after his meeting with Senate Democratic leaders. “Obviously, there’s a difference in the composition of that number — what’s included, what’s not included. It’s going to be a thorough negotiation.”
The Washington Post reports:
"If approved, the deal would be the largest single-year budget cut in U.S. history.
Lawmakers in both parties are eager to reach such a compromise, which would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, in September, and end a series of stopgap spending resolutions that have kept Washington operating a few weeks at a time since last fall. The current short-term measure will expire April 8, and congressional leaders have said they don’t want to pass another one.
The two sides have already agreed on $10 billion in cuts; now, the House and Senate appropriations committees are searching for an additional $23 billion to extract from the budget, according to lawmakers and aides from both parties."
Biden sounded optimistic when speaking to reporters after the meeting.
"There is no reason why, with all that’s going on in the world and with the state of the economy, we can’t reach an agreement to avoid a government shutdown," he said.
But he was quick to note that no deals had been reached yet.
"It’s not a deal until it’s a whole deal."
The Wall Street Journal reports:
"The $33 billion target was intended to strike a middle ground between the $61 billion of cuts sought by Republicans in a bill the House passed early this year and the spending freeze Democrats initially sought.
Republicans cautioned that the final number wasn't yet set. But after weeks of stalemate and partisan finger-pointing, there were signs that lawmakers had laid the rough outlines of a plan to fund the government for the remaining six months of the fiscal year. High-level talks continued over the final parameters of the agreement."
Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner remained cautious.
“There is no agreement on a number for the spending cuts,” spokesman Kevin Smith said. “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”
The AP notes, "The tentative split-the-differences plan would end up where GOP leaders started last month as they tried to fulfill a campaign pledge to return spending for agencies' daily operations to levels in place before President Barack Obama took office. That calculation takes into account the fact that the current budget year, which began Oct. 1, is about half over."
Tea Party activists are expected to protest the negotiations outside the Capitol on Thursday.
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