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 ShelbySenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' MORE (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse revives agenda after impeachment storm On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees House Democrats unveil .35B Puerto Rico aid bill 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. 


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." 


"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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Trump at Davos warns Europe on trade | President boasts about US economy to global elite | Experts say Trump trade victories may yield little growth Trump at Davos sends warning shot to Europe on trade 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.