By Erik Wasson and Bernie Becker - 12/03/13 11:03 AM EST
Rogers hopeful despite blown budget deadline
The head of the House Appropriations Committee said Tuesday that he has some hope a budget deal could be done, despite the fact the budget conference committee failed to deliver a deal by Dec. 2.
Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and his Senate counterpart, Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), had said a top-line budget deal must be done by Dec. 2 in order for their spending panels to put together an omnibus spending package by Jan. 15, when another government shutdown looms.
Rogers said appropriators could still try to put something together, likely over the Christmas holiday, if budget negotiators Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) could get a deal by the time the House leaves for the year on Dec. 13.
“Paul Ryan is optimistic. He feels good about things, that leads me to believe we have a chance here,” Rogers told reporters.
“I would have preferred to have the number yesterday but obviously I’m not the boss of that process,” he said. “So hopefully we will get a number by the 13th, and we will try to make it work.”
Rogers indicated he would like to see as much of the $91 billion in sequester cuts hitting discretionary spending in 2014 and 2015 replaced as possible. The top appropriator has said he wants to see mandatory entitlement spending curbed to give more breathing room to agency operating budgets and infrastructure projects.
“If we get an agreement by the middle of December, the Senate and us will try to work something out and I think we can, if the number is halfway decent,” he said.
Regarding what else a deal should include, Rogers deferred to Ryan.
“I want to leave the budget negotiators all the room that they need to come to an agreement,” he said. “My goal in life is to get back to regular order.”
If no deal can come together, Rogers predicted appropriators would have to work through Christmas to try to get a spending solution by Jan. 15. The House budget topline is $967 billion, and the Senate spending bills are written to $1.058 trillion.
“We may have to call up Santa to bring some elves to help us out,” he said.