Talks to Avoid Automatic Cuts Begin as Budget Work Continues

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Washington Report

“Big 4” congressional leaders are meeting with top White House officials this week with hopes of avoiding strict spending cuts later this year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; are seeking common ground on a two-year deal to lift budget caps that could trim as much as $71 billion from the defense budget and another $55 billion from domestic programs.

According to reports, President Donald Trump is receptive to a bipartisan deal to avoid the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, which would be triggered without a new fiscal deal.

Politico reports that Democrats want to the link the budget cap negotiations with a debt ceiling increase, but Republicans do not want to handle the issues together. The federal government is expected to hit the debt limit later this year.

But while both sides agree that the debt ceiling will eventually need to increase, there is disagreement on the budget caps.

A group of conservative Republican lawmakers are urging Trump to reject a budget deal and 30 House Republicans called to keep the spending limits in place in a letter to Pelosi last week.

If officials don’t reach an agreement by this fall, when Congress must pass its annual spending bills, they will risk another government shutdown.

As negotiations begin, Senate and House leaders will continue markups for defense bills.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will begin their markup of the National Defense Authorization Act this week, with a full committee markup set for Wednesday morning.

The House Appropriations Committee will look at defense spending on Tuesday.
 

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