Bloomberg News

House and Senate Leaders Said to Agree on Stopgap Bill

July 31, 2012

Congressional leaders have agreed to a $1.047 trillion stopgap measure to keep the U.S. government operating for six months after Sept. 30, according to two Republican House aides.

House Speaker John Boehner may announce the agreement as soon as today, they said. A Senate Democratic leadership aide also said House and Senate negotiators are nearing an agreement on a six-month stopgap funding bill at the level agreed to in the August 2011 Budget Control Act, which also increased the nation’s debt ceiling.

Completing a plan now would give leaders of both parties time to negotiate ways to avert $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, that are scheduled to begin taking effect in January.

The timing of the announcement will depend on how long it takes to craft the details. The Senate Democratic aide said leaders plan to unveil the measure soon and that it wouldn’t include unrelated policy items that have held up such proposals in the past.

The Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate are working on the stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution, because Congress hasn’t agreed on any spending bills for the 2013 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Senate Leaders

Senate leaders have pressed for the $1.047 trillion funding level. House Republicans until now had demanded reduced spending that amounts to an additional $19 billion in cuts in discretionary spending.

Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, said last week that he and other Tea Party-backed lawmakers told Boehner, an Ohio Republican, they could support a six-month spending bill at the August 2011 level to avoid a fight over government funding in a post-election session.

“Republicans don’t want to shut the government down, particularly conservatives,” DeMint said in a July 25 interview.

One of the Republican aides said the spending plan probably will be put to a vote in September after lawmakers return from their August recess.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, chairman of the Republican Study Committee that supports limited government, “is open to supporting a short-term” continuing resolution “that gets us past the lame-duck session” and doesn’t spend more than the levels in the Budget Control Act, his press secretary Meghan Snyder said last week.

‘Lame-Duck Congress’

“We can stomach that,” Representative Tim Huelskamp, a freshman Republican from Kansas, said last week. “Let’s get the budget done for six months and then see what happens in the election. To have a lame-duck Congress and, potentially, a lame- duck president deciding that -- I think most Americans would say ‘No.’”

Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, said last week that in addition to backing a six-month measure he would be willing to drop demands that the legislation bar funding for the administration’s health-care overhaul.

Representative Steny Hoyer, the House’s second-ranking Democrat, said July 25 Republicans are prepared to accept the funding level as a “pragmatic judgment.” If Republicans are perceived as shutting down the government, “it would hurt them badly at the polls,” Hoyer of Maryland said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net; James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net


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