Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Lawmakers eye two-week extension to budget negotiations

Lawmakers eye two-week extension to budget negotiations

House and Senate leadership favor passing a two-week short-term spending bill before the holiday break.

Congressional leaders hope to use the two weeks afforded by the stopgap spending bill to work out an overall deal and attach it to another short-term spending bill that would be needed by December 22 to continue federal spending into January.

Democratic votes will definitely be crucial in the Senate, where Republicans by themselves lack the 60 votes needed to approve the legislation. Complicating the search for a pact are disputes over immigration, health and other issues folded into the year-end mix.

Hours before Trump and Capitol Hill leaders were to hold a budget meeting last Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., abruptly called off the session.

Democrats and some Republicans are also demanding a plan to protect immigrants who arrived illegally in the children.

Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declined to describe the status of internal GOP budget talks after House Republicans met privately to discuss their next steps. Asked if he could live with a bill that runs through the end of the year, he said, "I don't think that's the best way forward". "You'll see when we bring the bill to the floor".

McConnell's statement came a day after the House announced a plan to pass another continuing resolution in order to extend federal funding through December 22 as the current stopgap measure approaches the December 8 deadline.

Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus want an extension until December 30, fearing that the short-term date would give Democrats move leverage in negotiations. Conservatives say setting the deadline before Christmas, when lawmakers want to go home, gives Democrats more leverage to get higher spending into the legislation. But after the Republican caucus met Tuesday, Walker said he could be "OK" with a bill that ended December 22 if Republican leaders were willing to negotiate with conservatives on the next phase of crafting a budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his preference is for a two-week funding bill.

GOP leaders hope to send Trump a final tax package before Christmas, and there's a growing consensus that they have a strong chance to succeed.

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have scheduled a summit to begin sorting out their budget differences, top lawmakers and the White House said Monday, as a clash that could produce a partial government shutdown by the weekend hung in the balance.

On Monday, McConnell expressed more confidence, saying, "We will pass it before the end of the week".

Because a two-year budget deal is expiring, the defense spending cap is due to drop in 2018 to $549 billion from this year's $551 billion, while non-defense spending is to fall to $516 billion from $519 billion.

"We have to provide funding for community health centres and (the Children´s Health Insurance Program), as well as relief for the millions of Americans still reeling from natural disasters", they added. There are also demands for money for battling opioid abuse.

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