Hoyer: Sides moving further away from caps deal

Greg Nash
Bipartisan negotiations seeking a long-term agreement to fund the government through the fiscal year have deteriorated in recent weeks, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
“I haven’t been involved in those negotiations, but what I’ve heard is it’s not as positive as it was three weeks ago, two weeks ago,” Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. 
“So it appears the Republicans will have to propose another short-term [fix].”
{mosads}The backsliding raises new questions about whether the sides can come together on a long-term budget deal that hikes spending across agencies through September; whether it complicates the bipartisan effort to secure an agreement on immigration that House Democrats are demanding as part of the budget talks; whether and it raises the threat of another government shutdown, as conservative House Republicans are voicing growing opposition to the short-term approach employed by GOP leaders since September.
With no deal in sight before the next funding deadline, on Feb. 8, Republican leaders will likely be forced to consider yet another continuing resolution (CR) next week to prevent a shutdown — the fifth short-term patch of the fiscal year. 
“Anyone would be very, very optimistic or unrealistic — take your choice — if they said, ‘By next Tuesday we’re going to have a global agreement,’” Hoyer said, referring to a long-term spending package that includes some resolution on immigration. 
“In fact we appear to be moving in the opposite direction, which is sad.” 
Democratic leaders have insisted that any long-term spending bill must include equal increases in defense funding and that going toward nondefense domestic programs — a demand Hoyer reiterated Tuesday. He noted that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Republicans had agreed to that formula in the past and had urged them to do so again this month to break the impasse. 
“All we’re asking for is what Ryan’s agreed to over the last four years: equality, parity,” Hoyer said. “If they agree to that, we’ll move on. And that way they could also get defense spending done.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also demanded that, before Democrats will sign on to a spending caps deal, the sides must also reach an agreement on the fate of the hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. That strategy puts the House Democrats at odds with the Senate Democrats, who have agreed to decouple the two issues to prevent another government shutdown.
Ryan, for his part, is going after Senate Democrats for blocking a hike in defense spending before an agreement on the rest of the budget is reached. The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a defense spending bill, marking the third time the lower chamber has considered legislation to increase the Pentagon’s budget. 
“We just don’t see this as irresponsible — it’s dangerous,” Ryan said Tuesday in the Capitol. “We had more people die in training accidents last year than died in combat last year. So … the reason we’re having all of these CRs is because of these filibusters of these vital appropriation bills.”
Hoyer named a different culprit, blaming the “incompetent” Republican majority for failing to send any appropriations bills to the president’s desk. 
“The reason we have [CRs] is because we have not funded a single agency of government,” he said. “The total incompetence and inability and unwillingness of the Republicans to do the job that is paramount … is mind-boggling.” 
Tags Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan Steny Hoyer

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