Mikulski asks budget conferees to report deal by Thanksgiving

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) warned that her committee would have only eight days to create an omnibus appropriations bill if the budget conference committee uses all of its negotiating time.

The budget conference committee has to report a deal by Dec. 13, but Mikulski said she’d prefer they finish work early.

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“We cannot do our discretionary spending until we get our top line,” Mikulski said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “We need to have this agreement and we need to have it sooner rather than later."

The budget conference was formed as part of a short-term fiscal deal that reopened the government and averted a government shutdown. But that bill only funds the government through Jan. 15.

Mikulski pointed out that there are only eight days that Congress will be in session between Dec. 13 and Jan. 15 because of the holidays.

“Essentially Congress will only be in sessions eight days between Dec. 13 and Jan. 15,” Mikulski said. “Eight days is an offal lot to ask. … We’ll do it if we have to, but we would prefer sooner rather than later.”

She asked the budget conference leaders Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to report their budget agreement by Thanksgiving.

Conferees have their work cut out for them with major differences between the House and Senate budgets — a $90 billion spending difference in 2014 alone.