Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hill Leaders Plot Spending Future

Drew Thies

It is a new year but lawmakers are facing a set of very familiar problems. Top Congressional leadership from both parties met with White House officials today to figure out another deal on how to fund the government. With a quickly approaching January 19th deadline, however, it is unclear if lawmakers will find a long term solution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are to meet with Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and other White House staff today.

Disagreements on both sides go beyond simple spending issues. The same problems that plagued the negotiation process at the end of 2017 are affecting current talks. Pelosi tweeted Tuesday that Democrats would insist higher domestic spending, while President Donald Trump insisted Democrats are “doing nothing” on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly known as DACA, saying there will be no deal on immigration issues without a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats are also looking at the spending deal as a way to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has been unfunded since September. Vote from Democrats will be needed to pass any spending deal, giving them leverage over the discussions.

“The president wants a two-year budget deal that provides realistic budget caps, and provides certainty for our national security,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press conference Tuesday.

Even if the two sides can come to an agreement, another stopgap spending bill may have to be passed to buy lawmakers some time to draft a full piece of legislation. The Senate begins legislative work today and the House will not be back in session until next week, giving legislators precious little time to write a bill.

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