Business group urges resolution of pressing fiscal issues

Business leaders urged congressional lawmakers and the White House on Wednesday to reach a budget deal to help navigate around another fiscal stalemate next year. 

Jim McNerney, chairman of the Business Roundtable and head of Boeing, sent President Obama and House-Senate budget conferees letters pressing them to reach a deal that wraps up the fiscal 2014 budget and replaces sequester cuts.

"The most pressing task before the budget conference is to reach agreement on a budget for the current fiscal year and provide for the replacement of the cuts imposed by the sequester," McNerney wrote.

The letters come ahead of the House-Senate budget conference that is set to resume next week as time ticks down for lawmakers to reach a deal.

The budget conferees will meet for a second time on Wednesday with a Dec. 13 deadline quickly approaching. 

"We need policy direction that boosts consumer confidence, promotes private sector growth and moves us toward a more effective and fiscally responsible federal government," McNerney wrote. 

"While we appreciate the difficulty of these issues, timely and significant action is required to avoid another crisis and to address our nation’s stagnant jobs’ recovery and slow economic growth."

Next week's meeting was announced at the end of the first round of talks on Oct. 30.

The committee was formed as part of the agreement to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 after the 16-day government shutdown last month. 

Government funding runs out Jan. 15 and would require another stopgap measure without a deal to provide money beyond that point.

The nation's top CEO's argue that if budget conferees can provide a framework for long-term fiscal challenges will provide greater certainty amid a nearly constant slog of temporary budget and tax patches. 

"Now is the time to develop a policy framework for 2014 that will work toward strengthening the economy and preserving America’s entitlement programs," McNerney said.

BRT's letters come with the added pressure from House and Senate appropriators who are urging the 29-member budget conference to produce a top-line budget number before Thanksgiving, which they argue will make it easier to cobble together all 12 spending bills into a massive omnibus measure.

That makes the weeks before Thanksgiving all the more crucial.

Although BRT President John Engler said Tuesday that he is optimistic the conferees can tackle the pressing fiscal issues, the conference is generally saddled by low expectations for a grand bargain that would include changes to entitlements, overhaul the tax code and deal with the national debt.

Even with the public meetings, much of the heavy lifting is expected to be done behind the scenes out of the offices of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).