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McConnell Cool to Budget Summit Talk

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats and Republicans remain on a collision course over the budget, and at this point their leaders can’t even agree on how to negotiate.  

Republicans have chosen to work within the sequester-created framework — at least for domestic spending — while Democrats have threatened to block any appropriations bills until Republicans agree to spend more money.  

So it’s time to get everyone together to hash out the details over steaming bowls of Senate bean soup, right? “No, of course not,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday, when asked if this was time for a budget summit.  

“The Appropriations Committee in the Senate is reporting out bills consistent with the budget that the Senate passed, and we’re going to move forward and see what our friends on the other side want to do,” McConnell said. “We’ve decided it’s important to start with the nation’s defense, the most important responsibility of the federal government.”  

Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has been a vocal critic of the budget that passed the Senate with no Democratic support, disagrees.  

“It’s not as if it hasn’t been done before,” Reid said. “We had the famous summit that took place at Andrews Air Force Base.” That’s a reference to a 1990 summit that led to a deal between President George Bush and Congress.  

“It should be congressional leaders, both parties, it should be the White House,” Reid said of attendees for a potential summit meeting.  

Democrats have repeatedly warned in recent weeks they will filibuster spending bills until Republicans cut a budget deal, and the White House Tuesday issued a fresh veto threat of the Defense spending bill over the budget and other issues.  

While McConnell said he’d wait to see whether Democrats actually block the bills, Democrats called for a summit soon to avoid a last-minute deal, which could easily lead to a continuing resolution.  

“You wait until the end, you’re going to get a [continuing resolution], which everyone agrees is a really poor form of budgeting, hurts the military and hurts families, doesn’t allow us to do what we need to do,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday.  

The showdown may not lead to a budget summit, per se, but at some point, somebody’s going to have to start talking.  

There are less than four months to avoid the next government shutdown, after all.  


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