The top Republican in the House said congressional negotiators are making progress on two must-do items on the legislative agenda: averting automatic budget cuts and meeting a deadline later this year to increase the government’s borrowing limit.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “We are anxious to reach a CAPS agreement, we met for two hours. Our hope is to make a deal before the day is over. We’re going to reconvene at 4:15. I’ve been in a lot of these meetings over the years and I don’t want to be too forward leaning in predicting an agreement, but it seems to me without exception everyone would like to.”
And he continued, “We are hopeful that we will get from the House of Representatives a supplemental on a bipartisan basis that’s been agreed to. If that’s the case, we’ll be voting on that in the Senate before the week is out. But we’ll be voting on something. I’d like to be voting on a bill that’s going to become a law and get a signature. As I’ve said repeatedly this is the longest time, I can certainly remember between disasters occurring and actually assistance being passed. People in the South and the Midwest, who’ve been adversely affected or have every right to be running out of patience with us and it’s time to get this this job done.”
The possibility that automatic spending cuts could hit federal agencies with budget reductions of up to 10 percent is helping the bipartisan talks. And increasing the debt limit is a must to fend off default on government obligations like interest payments and Social Security benefits, not to mention minimizing the chances of a repeat of the 35-day government shutdown of December 2018 and January 2019.
And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered, “Well look we’re working hard on it. It was a good, productive meeting. There is still some significant issues outstanding, particularly the domestic side, spending issues, you know things like health care and infrastructure and things that average middle class folks need, but we’re having good discussions and we’re meeting again at 4:15.”
It was the first meeting of top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with the top four leaders of Congress on the topics.