Next year’s spending must be less – and the same – than this year’s to get a debt limit deal

Debt limitation negotiators face a central dilemma that will be difficult to resolve: finding spending levels for next year that allow Republicans to pretend they have cut spending and, at the same time, allow Democrats to say they didn’t.

As the talks dragged on, the divide deepened.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blasted Democrats for not being able to find a penny to cut, while Democrats said the depth of the cuts in the $4.8 trillion GOP debt limit makes them politically unsustainable and indicates postponement this week. annual bill committee meetings that fund most federal agencies as evidence.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee that distributes the annual funding in question, told HuffPost that a final bill will require not only bipartisan support, but a minimum level of support within each party. order for a deal to work.

“There’s a political calculus here that each side has to look to board votes to feel confident that they’re not looking like they’re selling out their side,” he said. .

But that will be difficult to achieve given the glaring gap between the positions. The bill that House Republicans barely passed in April would set a spending cap for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, at $1.471 trillion, the same total as applied for 2022.

For the current year, the agencies are working with a prize pool of $1.498 trillion.

“I don’t think I’m asking for the impossible. Let’s spend less in the coming year than we spent this year,” McCarthy said Wednesday in an interview on Fox Business Network.

“There’s a political calculus here that each side has to look to board votes to feel sure they don’t look like they’re selling their side.”

– Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

Democrats have been reluctant to back down. But they left open the idea of ​​freezing spending at the current level, but no lower.

“It’s reasonable for all parties to consider a middle ground, a middle ground, of freezing spending at 2023 levels,” House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.) said Wednesday.

“That’s not all the Democrats want, but it’s a middle ground, which President Biden has offered to House Republicans.”

If spending were capped at either level and frozen, or allowed to grow only slowly over several years, as in the Republican House bill, the potential cuts would be significant. But it will be difficult to find a way to reconcile spending positions below the current level and Democrats not below the current level of the GOP.

Cole, however, said there was “some leeway” between the two seemingly incompatible positions.

“We act like the budget is the only expense that’s going on here,” Cole said, referring to the appropriations process. But the appropriations make up only about a third of overall government spending, thanks to big entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Also, additional expenses are often provided for emergencies, without relying on an annual cap. And Democrats used a budget process called reconciliation to add money last year.

“The reality is that the reconciliation bills were huge. So spending is going to come down, it’s going to be lower than it was last year, regardless,” Cole said.

“Frankly, I think our own people don’t recognize that and recognize that you’ve already cut spending. And thank God you did.

“They’re unraveling,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said of Republicans amid debt limit negotiations.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In the past, annual budget caps were often renegotiated because legislators later decided they were too restrictive. That’s what happened with the Fiscal Restraint Act of 2011, which was touted when it was passed as cutting spending by more than $2 trillion, but saw around $800 billion in cuts. canceled during its 10 years.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said the experience means lawmakers need to realize as many savings as possible early.

“That’s the whole point of getting short-term spending restrictions,” he said.

Even if the two sides agree on a figure, they will still have to agree on how to divide this amount of expenditure between defense and national priorities. Typically, appropriations subcommittees meet at this time each year to initiate the process, which includes voting on amounts and changes.

But those meetings were postponed this week, leading Democrats to say Republicans love cuts in the abstract but are afraid to vote for the levels of nonmilitary spending needed to protect the Pentagon from cuts.

“They’re unraveling,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) noted that tagging one of the most bipartisan bills each year, for military construction and veterans programs, has been delayed.

“The markup for this bill was overruled, along with the others, because the Republicans didn’t have the votes,” she said.

Cole played down the significance of the deferred markups, saying it was due to uncertainty about the final amount of spending that might emerge.

“We didn’t want to do anything that might inadvertently undermine the speaker’s negotiation,” he said.

Wasserman Schultz, however, said Republicans’ vehement reaction to the charge that their plan will require non-defense cuts simply shows the Democrats are right.

“They’re protesting like cornered pigs,” she said.

The Huffington Gt

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