Budget Deal May Be On The Horizon

Dec 6, 2013
Originally published on December 17, 2013 10:58 am

Congressional budget committee leaders are working to pull together a budget deal by the end of next week. Republic Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray are reportedly discussing how to increase revenue without raising taxes.

A main provision of the agreement would be a partial easing of the next two spending sequesters. It was only in October that a deadlock over federal spending led to the first government shutdown in 17 years.

Bloomberg’s Marty Schenker joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to explain.


  • Marty Schenker, executive editor of Top News for Bloomberg. He tweets @mschenker.
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From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson. It's HERE AND NOW.

We're just a week away from the self-imposed deadline for leaders in Congress to reach a budget deal and maybe head off another crisis in Washington. That deadline also happens to be Friday the 13th, which may or may not be a coincidence. But there are reports that a deal is close.

Marty Schenker is the executive editor for news at Bloomberg. He's with us now as he is each week. Hi, Marty.

MARTY SCHENKER: How are you doing, Jeremy?

HOBSON: I'm doing well. So, first, set up the stakes for us. Why do they have to reach a deal by next Friday?

SCHENKER: Well, they don't absolutely have to reach a deal by next Friday. That's a self-imposed deadline. But they do have to reach some sort of a deal before January 15, and that's when the current expending authority expires. Now that's the bipartisan panel's deadline. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray are having a, sort of, separate negotiation, trying to reach a more limited deal. And that's very active and that's the one that people think they're close on.

HOBSON: And that doesn't have to do, by the way, with the debt ceiling, which is another deadline in February?

SCHENKER: Oh, no. None of these deals have anything to do with the debt ceiling, which expires in February, and we all know what that was like.

HOBSON: And we can all look forward to that.

SCHENKER: Oh, yeah, and more fun.

HOBSON: Marty, tell us about what we know about the deal that - it sounds like they've kind of reached some agreement on between the two sides.

SCHENKER: Well, one thing you should know is that Paul Ryan and a lot of the other legislators have left Washington for the weekend. So - but rest assured, their staffs are still working hard on Saturday and Sunday. They reached some compromises. But now, things have gotten - as you know, the devil is in the details. And the Republicans want government workers to contribute more to their pensions as a way of reaching this deal. And Democrats are opposed to that. Democrats want unemployment insurance emergency funding for that to continue. Republicans are concerned about how that's going to be paid for. So they're trying to limit their options on how they reach this deal. So it may actually be a much smaller deal and for a shorter period of time. As a matter of fact, there is a stopgap measure under discussion.

HOBSON: A stopgap measure...


HOBSON: ...which would last for how long?

SCHENKER: Just for three months, and then we'd be back at it again in April. But there is some hope that if they even do that, it would help create an atmosphere where they can reach a long-term deal.

HOBSON: Although when you say that, I think back to what President Obama said back in October, when they finally broke through that 13-day partisan standoff and came up with a deal. Let's listen to what he said.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There's a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that's been lost over the last few weeks. And we can begin to do that by addressing the real issues that they care about.

HOBSON: But, Marty, if they're going to reach a three-month temporary deal, perhaps, that doesn't seem like it's going anywhere towards earning back the trust of the American people, that they can work together.

SCHENKER: That is probably true. But I can tell you this: neither side wants anything to do with the government closed down again. So there is a great incentive to reach some sort of an agreement. And the fact that they're talking is a very encouraging sign. So even if they have to do a stopgap measure for three months, it doesn't necessarily mean they won't reach a larger deal down the road.

HOBSON: Marty, does the jobs report that we got today do anything to the negotiations because, obviously, signs that the economy getting a little bit better. We just have a few seconds, but what do you think?

SCHENKER: Yeah. I think it actually does, and it means that there are more people working, greater tax revenue, easier to reach a deal.

HOBSON: Marty Schenker, executive editor for news at Bloomberg. Thanks so much as always.

SCHENKER: Thanks, Jeremy.

HOBSON: This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.