Lawmakers aim for agreement on top-line spending by next week

Lawmakers aim for agreement on top-line spending by next week
© Greg Nash

The top two lawmakers tasked with funding the government said Thursday that they want an agreement on top-line spending figures by next week. 

Both Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records On The Money: Stocks tumble on Trump China trade remarks | Trump says deal could come after 2020 | Why Wall Street freaked | Trump loses appeal over Deutsche Bank subpoena Key GOP senator: Spending 'understanding' needed within days to meet deadline MORE (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyCongress braces for chaotic December Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings Lawmakers bypass embattled Mulvaney in spending talks MORE (D-N.Y.) said they want to get a deal on the top-line figures, known as 302(b)s, by Wednesday. 

"We're talking about the 302(b)s and we're talking about the allocations for all of the subcommittees," Lowey told reporters after the meeting. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Lowey added that the goal was to get the top-line figures by Wednesday. She added Democrats have given a new proposal to the Senate, but did not provide the details of that proposal. 

A House Democratic aide confirmed that they made Senate Republicans a new offer on the top-line allocations. 

"We are hopeful that we can reach agreement in the next few days. The goal is to complete agreement on allocations and get Appropriations subcommittees to work on conferencing individual bills," the aide said. 

They added that "there is a clear consensus from all parties and the White House that we must avoid a government shutdown and get our work done."  

Asked about Lowey's Nov. 20 date, Shelby added that they are "working toward that goal." 

ADVERTISEMENT

"We had a very good conversation with the Speaker and the secretary of the Treasury," he said. "It's the best meeting we've had in months."  

A different senior Democratic aide added that the conversation was "productive" and that they hope to get a deal on the top-line allocations "as soon as possible." 

"Republicans appear willing to set aside discussing the wall for now in hopes of achieving the bipartisan goal of finalizing the allocations," the aide added. 

Shelby characterized himself as "optimistic" for the prospects of a deal and indicated the next three days would be crucial. 

In addition to Shelby and Lowey, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans On The Money: Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Dems on trade | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Biden eyes minimum tax for corporations | Fed's top regulator under pressure over Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Virginia moves to suspend Medicaid work rules | Powerful House panel sets 'Medicare for All' hearing | Hospitals sue over Trump price rule | FDA official grilled on vaping policy MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware On The Money: Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Dems on trade | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Biden eyes minimum tax for corporations | Fed's top regulator under pressure over Dodd-Frank rules Mnuchin raises concerns over global talks on taxing digital economy MORE were in the meeting. 

The government is currently funded until Nov. 21. 

Lawmakers are expected to pass a stopgap spending bill running until Dec. 20 to buy themselves more time to work out an agreement on the top-line spending figures as well as the larger fiscal 2020 spending bills. 

The Senate passed four of its fiscal 2020 bills, while the House has passed 10. But they've come to an agreement on final versions of none of the bills, in part because of a dispute over the top-line spending figures as well as the border wall. 

Both Lowey and Shelby indicated they didn't get into the details of the wall in the closed-door meeting with Mnuchin. Lowey said the first step was to get the deal on the top-line figures for the 12 bills, and then work out the problem areas in the individual bills. 

"Once those allocations are done, then the individual committees work with the challenges and areas where there are differences," Lowey said.