White House, Congress Nearing 2-Year Budget Deal

· Oct. 26, 2015, 8:05 pm

The White House and congressional leaders are close to reaching a two-year budget deal that would set new, higher spending caps and increase the nation’s borrowing authority.

Congressional aides, who confirmed the ongoing talks, had said an announcement could come as early as Monday evening. However, midnight passed in Washington without word of an agreement.

House Speaker John Boehner’s impending resignation, coupled with a Nov. 3 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit, have accelerated progress on budget talks that have been underway since mid-September.

Boehner is eager to reach a deal, in part, to allow his presumed successor, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to start with a clean legislative slate.

House Republicans are expected to nominate Ryan to serve as the next speaker on Wednesday. The full House would vote to confirm the nomination on Thursday.

The two-year budget deal would keep the government funded and largely eliminate the threat of government shutdown or a debt default until after the presidential election.

The federal government is currently funded by a stopgap measure that runs out Dec. 11.

The deal would ease tough and unpopular spending caps put in place by a 2011 budget law. It would allow Congress to spend more money on defense and domestic programs, by providing for savings elsewhere in the federal budget.

Leaders are also eyeing a fix to prevent a sharp increase in Medicare premiums that would affect about 30 percent of beneficiaries, according to congressional sources.

Democrats are eager to include in the package a provision to raise the debt ceiling, the nation’s borrowing authority, until March 2017. Republicans have balked at raising the limit without commensurate spending cuts attached, but the White House reiterated Monday that they would not negotiate on the debt ceiling.

“Congress has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that bills that they have authorized get paid fully and on time,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “That is, in some ways, the dictionary definition of fiscal responsibility and it is the expectation that the American people have for Congress that they will fulfill this basic function.”

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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