By Erik Wasson and Russell Berman - 12/10/13 02:57 PM EST
Lawmakers 'close' on budget deal
House and Senate budget negotiators say a deal to turn off part of the sequester could be announced Tuesday.
Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military A fight for new rights MORE (D-Wash.) told reporters she plans a news conference later in the day after briefing the full Senate Democratic caucus on the emerging deal.
“I think we’re close,” Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Wikileaks: Durbin pushed unknown Warren for Obama bank regulator The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters.
The deal would reduce automatic spending cuts known as the sequester by $65 billion to $85 billion over two years. To pay for that spending, negotiators are looking at a variety of proposals, including requiring federal employees to contribute more to their pensions.
While some Democrats raised objections to the deal, Durbin said there was a "positive feeling" about it in the room when Murray briefed her conference.
One holdup remains whether there will be a side deal on extending expiring jobless benefits.
Democrats appear to have given up on having unemployment insurance benefits in the budget deal, but are angling for a House vote on a separate bill.
“We want to make it part of what we do before the end of the year if possible,” Durbin said.
He said negotiators were still trying to find a way to pay for the $25 billion in new spending. One idea being floated is using some of the savings from the farm bill that is being negotiated separately.
Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanPoll: GOP has edge for open Wis. House seat In six new sanctuary states, Americans put at risk What the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress MORE (R-Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman, briefed House GOP leaders in Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump may pose problem for Ryan in Speaker vote Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court Vote House Republicans out MORE's (R-Ohio) office on the status of the talks as Murray was speaking to her colleagues.
“We're getting close," Ryan told reporters afterward.
He said he would brief the full Republican conference on Wednesday morning if there was an agreement.
"We're making progress," Ryan said. But he added: "It's not over until it's over."
He declined to discuss details of the potential agreement or the final sticking points.
A deal would prevent a government shutdown on Jan. 15, when the current government funding bill expires.
They are trying to agree to a top-line budget number. That figure has been fluid but could be about $1 trillion for 2014, up from $967 billion in current law.
Besides increasing federal worker retirement contributions, negotiators have discussed an increase in aviation fees, cuts to hospital payments, and postal reforms.
Heading into the Senate Democratic conference meeting, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBetter child care for stronger families GOP Senate candidate: It's 'not practical' to repeal ObamaCare Senate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal MORE (D-Md.) said she is troubled by cuts to federal worker pension benefits being discussed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Latinos build a wall between Trump and White House in new ad The true (and incredible) story of Hill staffers on the industry payroll MORE (D-Nev.) was asked whether there is a deal.
“Not yet,” he said.