The Insider

Lawmakers eye two-week extension to budget negotiations

By Tony Bertuca  
December 5, 2017 at 3:14 PM

Senate Republicans and Democrats today voiced their support for a brief extension to a stopgap continuing resolution that would prevent a federal government shutdown Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said during a weekly briefing with reporters that Republicans expect to vote this week on a measure to extend the CR from Dec. 8 to Dec. 22 to "give us a little room to talk" about a bipartisan deal to raise defense and non-defense spending above caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Asked if he would consider a CR that stretches to Dec. 30 as some House Freedom Caucus members have proposed, McConnell said, "I don't think that's the best way to go forward."

McConnell is expected to join House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at a meeting Thursday with President Trump at the White House to discuss a budget deal.

Schumer told reporters Democrats are confident negotiations are "moving in the right direction," but cautioned that the House GOP would need to embrace compromise, beginning with a vote on a two-week CR extension.

"Just three days away from shutdown, it doesn't seem like Republicans in the House have their act together," he said. "We hope that Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell won't be led around by the Freedom Caucus -- that's a formula for disaster. We hope instead Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell will work with Democrats."

Democrats are insisting any increase in defense spending above the BCA's congressionally mandated caps be matched with a boost in non-defense funds to mitigate the opioid crisis, maintain rural roads and pay for other domestic priorities.

"We believe we need both, we believe both have a very strong claim on the budget," he said. "We Democrats are doing what we've done before and that is push for parity."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told Inside Defense over the weekend he supports the two-week CR extension, provided he is promised a fiscal year 2018 defense spending increase.

"I think a number of members are willing to give another couple of weeks to find a deal," he said during an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum.