Senate leaders upbeat about possible deal to raise budget caps

Bipartisan Senate leaders were upbeat Tuesday that a deal to raise budget caps was near, a potentially key breakthrou...

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 7:01 AM
Updated: Feb 7, 2018 7:01 AM

Bipartisan Senate leaders were upbeat Tuesday that a deal to raise budget caps was near, a potentially key breakthrough needed to resolve long-term government funding needs, though it's unclear if comments President Donald Trump made saying he'd "love to see a shutdown" would harm negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer huddled in the Kentucky Republican's office to hash out remaining differences over the caps, which are the result of the unpopular budget sequestration of 2013, which significantly curbed spending growth on defense and domestic programs.

Such a deal could be completed and voted on by the Thursday deadline to avert a government shutdown and could unblock several long stalled issues in Congress, including increases to defense spending and domestic programs. But doing so would largely be giving up the central component of their leverage to force an immigration deal -- the Republican desire to substantially increase defense spending.

Democrats and Republicans rail against the spending restraints but have struggled to reach an agreement to remove them largely because Republicans want to increase Pentagon funding more than domestic funding, something Democrats refuse to do.

As negotiations continue, the exact timing and framework of such a deal remain fluid. In order to be addressed before Thursday government shutdown, the Senate would have to attach the components of the deal to a continuing resolution and send it back to the House (the House is expected to vote on the resolution Tuesday, but increases in defense spending the House is including are expected to be stripped out, meaning the chamber would have to vote again). The House would then have to vote again -- and would need significant Democratic support due to pockets of GOP resistance to major spending increases. That has been up in the air, but sources are growing confident the votes would be there.

"We're on track," one source told CNN. "Not there yet and there are a lot of technical details to lock in, but we're on track."

However, several Republican aides working on the budget deal have voiced concern to CNN that the President's comments about a shutdown may cause things to fall apart.

"Holding my breath right now," texted one senior Republican working on the deal.

The issue is whether House Democrats -- who have for months been outright resistant to signing onto a budget agreement without a resolution on DACA in sight and are still wary of the current negotiations -- will now back away from the breakthrough deal negotiators are approaching.

The President's remarks happened at the same time McConnell and Schumer, in separate news conferences, touted the progress on the talks and made clear a deal was close. The talks also separate the issue from immigration altogether -- long the GOP goal -- making the President's comments somewhat nonsensical.

"I'm very pleased to report my meeting with Sen. McConnell went very well," Schumer told reporters. "We're making real progress on a spending deal that would increase caps for both military and middle-class priorities on the domestic side that Democrats have been fighting for. ... We are really making good progress."

"Sen. Schumer and I had a good meeting this morning on a caps deal and the other issues we've been discussing for some months now," McConnell said. "I'm optimistic that very soon we'll be able to reach an agreement."

An agreement on the caps would make it much easier for appropriators to reach a funding agreement that will last until a new fiscal year begins October 1. Congress has passed a series of continuing resolutions, or CRs, to keep the government open, except for one brief closure when Democrats resisted approving a stopgap bill to press for unrelated immigration reforms. Overall, those resolutions are considered by both parties to be a clumsy and inefficient way to fund the government because it just continues spending levels from the previous year and makes no needed fine print adjustments for evolving needs at the federal agencies.

"Things are in a good place, but also fragile," a GOP aide said, noting all of the moving parts in the talks. "We could do without anything inflammatory for a couple of days."

An agreement could also make it easier to pass other key measures, including overdue disaster relief and a hike in the debt ceiling.

"I know there continues to be discussions on the spending caps and I'm hoping that dam will break and we can get a lot of this overdue business taken care of," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican.

Cornyn said he didn't know how long it would take to process a deal on the caps but indicated at least one more short term CR would need to pass for it to happen. The House is voting Tuesday on a six-week CR that includes a full year of funding for the military.

Senate Democrat are expected to block that bill, meaning Senate leaders will likely have to strip out the extra defense funds and likely send it back to the House before Thursday's deadline.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32078

Reported Deaths: 2004
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9268539
Lake3320168
Cass15826
Allen130966
St. Joseph120534
Hendricks113067
Hamilton111592
Johnson1086104
Elkhart105728
Madison58258
Porter49021
Bartholomew48133
Clark46138
LaPorte41522
Tippecanoe3753
Jackson3671
Howard36519
Delaware35735
Hancock32127
Shelby31521
Floyd31438
Boone28835
Morgan26224
Vanderburgh2482
Montgomery23117
White2268
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19121
Noble18921
Harrison18721
Dubois1852
Greene16724
Warrick16426
Dearborn16421
Henry1619
Monroe16011
Vigo1477
Lawrence14423
Miami1391
Putnam1337
Jennings1274
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Kosciusko941
Carroll922
Daviess8216
Steuben802
Marshall761
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne715
Fayette684
LaGrange602
Jasper581
Washington521
Fulton471
Rush452
Jay440
Randolph433
Jefferson411
Whitley402
Pulaski390
Clay391
Owen341
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
DeKalb311
Perry260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton251
Benton250
Wells240
Crawford230
Blackford211
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Spencer171
Posey170
Parke170
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0154

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 113195

Reported Deaths: 4923
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook738193354
Lake7767250
DuPage7290340
Kane5866153
Will5238258
Winnebago199351
McHenry145268
St. Clair101773
Kankakee80242
Kendall72719
Rock Island63922
Champaign5697
Madison54056
Boone40716
Sangamon33226
DeKalb3313
Randolph2593
Jackson22810
McLean21210
Stephenson1952
Ogle1922
Macon18819
Peoria1858
Clinton17816
Out of IL1771
Union1417
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13310
Iroquois1314
Unassigned1200
Coles1159
Warren1140
Jefferson10116
Knox950
Monroe9211
Grundy892
McDonough835
Lee761
Tazewell683
Cass670
Henry670
Williamson541
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin421
Perry410
Pulaski400
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan341
Christian334
Livingston312
Douglas280
Jo Daviess270
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Mercer150
Carroll132
Franklin120
Piatt120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Schuyler100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Robinson
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 71°
Rockville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Brazil
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 73°
Marshall
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 73°
No Major Changes
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events