Toomey shoots for short-term budget deal

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said Wednesday the House-Senate budget conference would likely shoot for an agreement to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, avoiding any larger deal.

Toomey — a member of the budget conference that meets for the first time Wednesday — said even resolving the differences between the House and Senate budget would likely be too great. 

“I don’t think we are going to resolve, comprehensively, a budget resolution,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “What we could do is reach an agreement funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, and avoid any kind of drama in January when the current funding bill expires.”

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Toomey said he hoped the conference could agree to a standing rule to end future standoffs caused by the threat of a government shutdown. He argued for a proposal that would automatically extend continuing resolutions to fund the government when appropriations bills are not approved. 

Toomey said he is hoping the conference can agree to keep the top line number of $968 billion, sequestration levels, by substituting out savings on the mandatory side. But he proposed giving the administration more flexibility to administer sequestration if replacements are not agreed to. 

The budget conference was produced as part of the agreement that reopened the government and increased the debt ceiling earlier this month. It has a Dec. 13 deadline to come to an agreement. Funding runs out again on Jan. 15.  

Leaders from both parties have already ruled out any sort of grand bargain emerging from the process. President Obama is the only one who could initiate a larger deal, Toomey asserted, and he has been reluctant to do that.  

“I don’t see the evidence that that is priority for this president so I’m not terrible optimistic,” he said. 

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