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Budget Conference Limps Forward, With Democrats Pushing for Budget Deal Before Year's End

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Budget Conference Limps Forward, With Democrats Pushing for Budget Deal Before Year's End

November 22, 2013

The legislation that ended the recent government shutdown included a provision that a budget conference committee comprised of Democrats and Republicans from both houses of Congress would work to reach a budget deal by December 13. With that deadline just weeks away, little progress has been made, and conferees have not indicated that a deal is at all likely by that date. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) warned that Democrats would not vote to adjourn until "critically important" issues on the House's agenda have been addressed, including the budget conference. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that it was important to have a budget as soon as possible, and not allow it to drift into next year. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) was even more emphatic saying, "No budget, no vacation. We should not be adjourning as a Congress in mid-December until we have completed work on the budget."

Democratic threats of cancelling the scheduled recess date ring empty, since Republicans control the House. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said that he is hopeful the conferees will reach an agreement by the deadline. If they do not, he said that Republican leadership is prepared to advance a short-term continuing resolution that would maintain current sequester spending cuts in order to avoid another government shutdown. That would put Democrats in a tough position, since they do not want either to be blamed for another shutdown, or agree to the spending cuts lasting any longer. 

The members of the budget conference committee are listed below:

House Republicans: 
Rep. Paul Ryan (Va.)
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.)
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.)
Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.)

House Democrats:
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)

Senate Republicans:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa)
Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)
Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.)
Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.)

From Senate Democratic Caucus: 
Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.)
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.)
Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)
Sen. Mark Warner (Va.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.)
Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Angus King (Maine)