Congressional leaders and top Trump administration officials met Tuesday to discuss a two-year budget agreement to avoid $126 billion in automatic spending cuts set to take effect in fiscal 2020, and it sounds like they might strike a surprisingly quick deal. The parties agreed to meet again Tuesday afternoon, a sign of how urgently they were looking to resolve the issue.
“Our hope is to make a deal before the day is over,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters after a two-hour morning, according to The Washington Post.“I don’t want to be too forward-leaning in predicting an agreement, but it seems to me, without exception, everyone would like to.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was only slightly less upbeat after the meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and acting budget chief Russ Vought. “It was a good, productive meeting," Schumer said Tuesday afternoon, Politico reports. "There are still some significant issues outstanding, particularly the domestic side spending issues like health care and infrastructure middle-class folks need."
Talks for the day reportedly ended without an agreement, largely as the result of ongoing differences over domestic spending.
A deal, if reached, would establish overall budget levels for the next two years, likely lifting spending caps imposed by a 2011 law. It might also raise or suspend the debt ceiling, eliminating the threat of a market-rattling standoff later in the year.
But a quick deal that once again raises spending caps is bound to leave deficit hawks even more frustrated, even if it does avoid some of the budget brinksmanship of recent years and reduces the risk of another government shutdown. “ADDING TWO TRILLION DOLLARS TO THE DEBT IS *NOT* A POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT,” Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget tweeted.