December 2, 2013

Budget Conference Negotiations Continue

By Christy Gullion

The House is in session this week and is scheduled to work on a bill that would renew a 25-year-old ban on the production of plastic guns that expires on December 9th and to possibly overhaul patent litigation. The House also wants to advance a pediatric medical research bill before the Christmas recess but is facing resistance from conservative members who want to use the money for deficit reduction. The Senate is on recess until December 9th.

Conference committees will continue negotiations on the farm bill and water resources legislation in the hopes of reaching deals before the end of the year. No public meetings are currently scheduled for the budget conference committee this week, but informal talks continue as the panel seeks to come up with an accord on FY2014 spending by December 13th.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) continue to talk about the FY2014 budget. Because of their differences, they may ultimately agree to put forward a limited fiscal agreement that would meet the most minimal of goals but would most likely be the only deal that could clear a divided Congress. The deal would provide appropriators with top-line figures for discretionary spending for the current fiscal year and the next, and partially alleviate the spending sequester that threatens automatic cuts if budget caps under the Budget Control Act aren’t met. It would utilize a combination of non-tax revenue such as user fees and modest cuts to mandatory spending programs to produce savings to offset any reduction in the sequester, among other proposals.  This type of deal would likely prevent another government shutdown when the current continuing resolution expires on January 15th.

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