House, Senate Negotiators Meet on Budget Resolution

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Congressional negotiators presented often-contrasting views on taxes, defense spending, health care, safety net programs and the economy as they held their first formal meeting Monday to develop a joint budget resolution for Fiscal 2016.

The House and Senate approved separate budget plans in late March. If the negotiators can reach agreement on a single blueprint, it would be a welcome step toward “regular order” in the budget process after numerous failures in recent years.

The March budget plans were approved on largely party-line votes and have considerable overlaps, including higher defense spending and repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They envision a balanced budget near the end of the next 10 years.

These plans, however, rely on some gimmicks and unrealistic assumptions about future spending cuts in areas that many lawmakers in both parties already consider under-funded. It is also unclear how Republicans would make up for revenue that would be lost by repealing the ACA or permanently extending certain tax breaks.

Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby says elected officials were likely to continue struggling with the budget in the months ahead.

“They’ll pass a budget resolution — which would be an accomplishment in and of itself — but with an acknowledgment that it might not be feasible to pass the appropriations bills at those levels, that they might be too low,” Bixby told McClatchy Newspapers. “You might find the president vetoing appropriations bills and we wind up with another Continuing Resolution.”

External links:
Talks Begin on Capitol Hill Budget Measure (AP)
House and Senate Negotiators Discuss Views on Joint Budget Plan (McClatchy)
Budget Plans Include Questionable Assumptions (Concord)
Press Release on House Budget Plan (Concord)
Everything You Need to Know About a Budget Conference (CRFB)

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