FEATURED:

McConnell, Schumer lay down goals for budget talks

McConnell, Schumer lay down goals for budget talks
© Greg Nash
The Senate's top two members laid down goal posts for budget talks on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with the White House to try to hammer out a budget deal and tackle other outstanding legislation. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants 6B from Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to detail their priorities for any agreement, while urging the other party to compromise. 
 
"The Senate will need to tackle a number of important issues this year. It's my sincere hope that we can do so in a renewed spirit of comity, collegiality and bipartisanship. I note that colleagues on both sides of the aisle share the hope and it's urgent that we make it a reality," McConnell said. 
 
McConnell pointed to the Jan. 19 deadline to prevent a government shutdown. Congress must also reach a deal on the budget to prevent automatic across-the-board spending cuts under the Budget Control Act. 
 
McConnell, Schumer, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Rep. Gutiérrez: 'Complete betrayal' if Pelosi backs budget caps deal without DACA Senate leaders say they're zeroing in on two-year budget deal MORE (D-Calif.) are scheduled to meet with Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOvernight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA 'right to try' bill Mnuchin wants to know how consumer bureau is handling Equifax breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group MORE, Trump's budget chief, and Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. 
 
The White House and top lawmakers have been negotiating for weeks but failed to lock down an agreement. 
 
Democrats' push for parity between increases on defense and nondefense spending had emerged as one sticking point. McConnell urged them on Wednesday to "set aside" the demand.  
 
"There is no reason why funding for our national security and our service members should be limited by an arbitrary political formula that bears no relationship to actual need," he said. 
 
Republicans argue that years of declining budgets have hollowed out the U.S. military and left it unable to keep up with a myriad of international threats. 
 
Democrats are also expected to bring up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration announced last year it would end. 
 
Democratic leadership took fire from progressives and immigration activists after they left Washington last month without an agreement that linked DACA to border security. 
 
Schumer, saying 2017 was "not a year to be proud of," urged Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE to "engage in good faith" on DACA, as well as other issues including the Children's Health Insurance Program and disaster aid. 
 
"In contrast to a year of chaos and ineffectiveness, a year in which little was accomplished, and what was done was done for the wealthy and narrow special interests, I hope this year can be one of bipartisanship," Schumer said. 
 
He added that he believes a deal could be reached on DACA if Republicans set aside "unreasonable demands like an absurdly expensive, ineffective border wall that publicly many Republicans oppose, and privately many more do."