Senate GOP, White House postpone budget meeting on avoiding government shutdown

Senate GOP, White House postpone budget meeting on avoiding government shutdown
© Stefani Reynolds

A meeting scheduled for Tuesday between top Senate Republicans and the White House to discuss a path toward avoiding another government shutdown has been postponed.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyIn-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE (R-Ala.) said the powwow was canceled because of scheduling conflicts with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Democrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Five key players in Trump's trade battles MORE.

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Shelby added that participants were hoping to reschedule the meeting for as soon as Wednesday, but nothing had been locked in. Lawmakers typically leave town for the weekend on Thursdays. 

Shelby, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (R-Ky.), acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Chris Wallace becomes Trump era's 'equal opportunity inquisitor' MORE, Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought had been set to meet on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to get on the same page about how to move forward on a government funding bill ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline to avoid a shutdown.

To do so lawmakers have to pass 12 appropriations bills, either individually or as part of a package. So far the committee has passed none amid a stalemate over how to lift defense and nondefense spending caps. Without an agreement, steep, across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, are set to kick back in. 

"Caps number is what we would like to get, but short of that … I will bring up that short of the caps number we need to move forward" on funding bills, Shelby said.

The decision to potentially start moving appropriations bills comes after talks about a deal to lift the defense and nondefense budget caps appeared to stall after a meeting with top congressional leaders and Mulvaney, Mnuchin and Vought last month.

McConnell had initially indicated he thought a deal could come together quickly, but Schumer acknowledged they were still far apart on the top-line number for nondefense spending, a major priority for Democrats. 

"I still believe that a spending caps deal is to everybody's advantage. Everybody. The president, the Senate, the House, both parties. We expect those talks to resume and we're hopeful we'll be able to reach an agreement so we can have some kind of ordinary process that could fund the government of the United States. So, I remain optimistic," McConnell told reporters last week.