Dems offer bill to launch new budget talks

Dems offer bill to launch new budget talks
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A group of House Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation demanding spending negotiations to prevent a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

At a press conference outside of the Capitol, House Budget Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) unveiled the measure with other Democrats on the Budget and Appropriations panels.

The bill calls for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to raise spending ceilings and establish offsets for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. A majority of the negotiators must approve an agreement by Sept. 25, and Congress would have to pass the resulting legislation by Oct. 1.

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“Under either outcome, appropriations action will be able to proceed, avoiding a government shutdown,” a fact sheet of the bill says.

If negotiators are unable to reach a deal by Oct. 1, the spending ceilings would be automatically raised by the levels proposed by President Obama: $37 billion more for domestic programs and $38 billion more for the Pentagon.

Most expect these negotiations over spending levels will happen later in the fall.

The more pressing issue now for GOP leadership is keeping the government funded through Oct. 1 as they face pressure from conservatives demanding the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Van Hollen touched on the Planned Parenthood fight and alluded to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTexas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website MORE’s (R-Texas) influence on House Republicans.

“Senator Cruz, this time, talking about shutting down the government in order to shut down women’s health programs like Planned Parenthood. And once again, we hear Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE saying ‘No, that’s not gonna happen,' ” Van Hollen said.

The only way to avoid a government shutdown is to raise the spending caps, said Van Hollen, who added that Democrats asked Boehner to start budget negotiations months ago.

“We’ve heard nothing,” he said.