Senate GOP, White House reschedule government funding meeting

Greg Nash

Top Senate Republicans have rescheduled a budget meeting with Trump administration officials for Wednesday, citing a scheduling conflict for the postponed gathering.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) had been set to meet Tuesday with White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.

{mosads}An aide confirmed that the meeting had been rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Lawmakers had hoped to use the meeting to come up with a plan to avoid a government shutdown starting Oct. 1 — the beginning of the new fiscal year — and to allow the Senate Appropriations Committee to start moving government funding bills. 

One snag to moving appropriations bills is that lawmakers and the White House have not yet reached a deal to raise the defense and nondefense budget caps and avoid across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration. The caps agreement would be used to set the top-line numbers for Congress’s government funding bills.

Lawmakers have to pass 12 appropriations bills, either individually or as part of a package, by the end of September. So far, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed none.

“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 earlier Tuesday.

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 last month with top congressional leaders and Mulvaney, Mnuchin and Vought.

McConnell had initially indicated he thought a deal could come together quickly, but Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) 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.

Tags Chuck Schumer Government shutdown Mick Mulvaney Mitch McConnell Richard Shelby Steven Mnuchin

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