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Cuts are coming. Can Pelosi and McConnell make a deal?

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    FILE - In this March 21, 2018, file photo Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., attend a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring the Office of Strategic Services in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi and McConnell are coming together to see if a deal can be made to stop billions of dollars in government spending cuts. Failure to reach an agreement would usher in cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs of $125 billion next year – a 10 percent drop from current levels.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Published April 28. 2019 03:56PM

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, Washington’s odd couple, have a limited set of mutual legislative interests in a capital beset by dysfunction and awash in presidential politics.

But automatic spending cuts, the legacy of a budget breakdown eight years ago, are bringing the power duo together to see if a deal can be made.

At stake are tens of billions of dollars for military and domestic programs, money that brings together a broad spectrum of lawmakers, including pragmatists hoping to see the Capitol function.

There is plenty of time to reach agreement, but failure could usher in spending cuts of $125 billion next year, a 10 percent drop from current levels. Looming over it all is the record 35-day partial government shutdown earlier this year, still a fresh memory and a disruption no one wants to repeat.

McConnell, R-Ky., and Pelosi, D-Calif., have been players in numerous bipartisan budget deals, and their mutual support is an essential ingredient if any new one is to succeed. Early signs seem iffy at best.

President Donald Trump is not a fan of the effort. Trump’s budget proposes an increase in defense spending to $750 billion but would keep the cuts to domestic agencies and foreign aid in place, though that was an impossible formula to sustain even before Democrats took back the House.

Forces inside Trump’s White House appear opposed as well, at least to the kind of everybody-gets-something bipartisan deals that can make it through the system. Three previous agreements have denied Trump the money he demanded to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and he has signed them reluctantly.

The White House seems more interested in speedy action on legislation to increase the government’s borrowing limit, which must be passed to avoid defaulting on its obligations. Trump’s team worries that marrying the two issues might prove too toxic for GOP allies on Capitol Hill.

On the spending picture, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, architect of Trump’s annual budget from his former post as budget director, is seen as an obstacle, along with current budget chief Russ Vought, a hard-line conservative.

The White House has made it plain in private that it could live with a fallback deal of a freeze at current levels, even though that would deny the Pentagon its requested increase.

Trump tweeted this month: “House Democrats want to negotiate a $2 TRILLION spending increase but can’t even pass their own plan. We can’t afford it anyway, and it’s not happening!” Trump’s $2 trillion figure reflects what a deal could cost over 10 years.

Pelosi does have some problems on her left flank, which this month blocked a leadership-backed measure to set new budget limits reflecting Democratic domestic priorities. Liberals such as Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state and Ro Khanna of California stifled the plan, saying it shortchanged domestic programs.

“It’s obvious they can’t agree among themselves how much they want to spend,” McConnell recently told reporters. He said the only possibility he sees is a bipartisan agreement that “the most liberal members of her party don’t vote for and the most conservative members of my party don’t vote for.”

McConnell insists he and Pelosi can deliver as they have in the past, and both have long histories on the powerful House and Senate Appropriations committees, for years as the top negotiators over the annual foreign aid bill. But Washington’s partisanship and the battles over Democratic investigations of Trump aren’t helping now, and Trump’s unpredictability could unravel things at any time.

What’s more, there isn’t pressure to reach a deal quickly. At immediate stake is the setting of upper boundaries, or “caps,” on about $1.3 trillion in annual appropriations passed by Congress for agency operations. Actually divvying up the money comes during lengthy consideration of 12 individual spending bills.

Both the House and Senate routinely bust the Sept. 30 deadline for the spending legislation, and both the House and Senate Appropriations committees plan to begin work on their 12 bills regardless. Washington’s rules dictate that the spending cuts wouldn’t actually strike until next year.

Past deals, including the 2011 budget pact between President Barack Obama and GOP leaders, have typically hitched a ride on must-do legislation to increase the government’s borrowing cap, though the need to raise that limit doesn’t come into play until late this summer or early fall.

Also, McConnell may be more eager for a deal than Pelosi. Senate rules and traditions mandate that the process in that chamber be bipartisan if it is to succeed.

But in the House, majority Democrats don’t need GOP help at the outset to pass the bills.

The leader of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., is kicking off action this week, starting with health and education programs.

For now, the two sides plan to plug along in hopes of forestalling the prospect of across-the-board cuts and minimizing the chaos.

“Pelosi and McConnell do not want to go through another government shutdown,” said Bill Hoagland, a longtime Senate budget aide and an analyst with the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Dear Nancy and Mitch,
The first quarter GDP came in much higher than what the Lame Stream Media predicted. You see, that government shutdown didn't have an effect on the economy. You politicians don't create wealth, we do. Every time you politicians claim that your government is going to increase production, create wealth, or provide jobs...I grab my wallet.
It's time to take away your credit card. After all, the main mission, according to our US Constitution, of the federal government, is to protect us from foreign and domestic terrorism.
Translation... Build the wall and make mighty, our military.
Fifth Amendment of the Constitution dictates that no private property can be taken for public use without compensation. There is, and will be compensation Joe.
If Congress authorizes the need for that piece of land or property, they have the right to issue recovery. It doesn't matter what Mike Meyers thinks, what matters is law.
But let's look at a local case of abuse.
PPL Center... The Mayor (now sitting in jail), defended the city's acquisition process to aquire land for the PPL Center. He made offers, half accepted, and others held out. But if necessary, he said the city will use eminent domain, and they did.
Eminent Domain by blight! But there was no blight, and the property would eventually transfer to private hands, and for private affair. The PPL Center isn't public use, you need a ticket to get in. The Mayor is where he belongs. I still stand against state owned lands. But remember, I am ultra conservative.
The argument that the SCOTUS dealt with over the years usually came down to definitions of the function intended for the aquisition. Do you know what the biggest land acquisition case load of the twentieth century was? They were the condemnations for the New Deal projects. The biggest Socialist to ever step foot in the Oval Office fathered that mess.
A case were condemnation was needed? For fast construction of World War II military facilities. Which were needed to do what Joe? You got it... Protect the States, just as the wall will.
Build the wall, vote Trump 2020.
Hey Joe... What are your thoughts on Sleepy Joe running? Is he your man, or Bernie, the Socialist?
BTW, your boy is a huge supporter of eminent domain for public AND private projects.

There is nothing "ultra-conservative" about supporting a border wall. Any true conservative thinker understands that isolationist behavior is the antithesis of free market capitalism. Free markets require free movement of people. I invite you to look up what Ron Paul says about border walls or any other true libertarian.
Am I a Ron Paul supporter? Also, how do you fit isolation into a secure border? Locking your house up before you turn in for the night makes you an isolationist too! Ha Ha Ha Give me a break!
Come on Joe. For a self described “genius” you should understand the difference between closed borders and isolationism. Are you able to look it up yourself? I am reviewing the Prayer Day Event at the White House Rose Garden today. Rabbi Goldstein and President Trump did great. Here is another case of: half knowledge =no knowledge.
I am also reviewing : The Russian Hoax by Gregg Jarrett. Also, Rush Limbaugh. Also, Dan Bongino. Also, Mueller Report. Also, Bill Barr testimony. I can’t wait for justice.
Again, a basic tenet of isolationism is closing your borders. Maybe the biggest example International intervention is the acceptance of refugees and the politically persecuted. Trump has severely limited this along with avoidance of intervention abroad.
President Trump is not an isolationist. He has traveled extensively around the world. He has set a leadership example worldwide. He has renegotiated trade deals with countries that took advantage of us before. He has reframed the posture of the UN. Most importantly, President Trump has established a strong, firm leadership style with our enemies. Sovereignty is important for any country. Sealing the border and closely controlling immigration is important. The US has a terrible immigration policy over a long term. Immigration is up to record levels. Trump has become a world leader authentically filling the “empty” shoes of his predecessor. Trump is doing a great job in spite of a 675 day hoax investigation and Trump haters resisting every potential achievement. America is Great! MAGA!
I don't need to support Trump, many other s do. You don't read to learn, just to respond. Buying private land to turn in to recreation is different from condemnation of private property to turn it into recreation, which both, are a far cry from eminent domain to protect the country. The Constitution does mention protection, not recreation. I'm quite certain it's private contractors bidding on the wall, so...
Why don't you suggest a solution instead of shooting holes in my every comment?
You enlightened me on Trump's ED problem. I didn't side step, I forgot what article we had this discussion under. Ha Ha
I get what you're saying, but my point was that it falls within the structure of the Constitution, if it's being compensated, and is for national security. I don't think that falls deep in to socialism.
As for immigration? I agree we need people, as we have fallen below sustainable birth rate.
хорошего дня

All kidding aside...
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The economy generated a stronger than expected 263,000 new jobs in April, helping to drive down the unemployment rate to a 49-year low of 3.6%. The increase in new jobs easily topped the 217,000 MarketWatch forecast. The jobless rate slid from 3.8% in March to hit the lowest level since December 1969. The average wage paid to American workers rose 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $27.77 an hour. The 12-month rate of hourly wage gains was unchanged at 3.2%. Hours worked each week fell 0.1 hour in April to 34.4. The government revised the increase in new jobs in March to 189,000 from a preliminary 196,000. February's gain was raised to 56,000 from 33,000.
Perhaps we didn't reach 4% GDP in 2017 or 2018, but consider all the opposition and fighting from every Democrat, and we still have such a booming economy. For certain, democrats can stake no claim on this, which is just another thing that'll bite them in 2020.
We Want Joe! We Want Joe!
Ha Ha Ha It's just Joe...
Politicians set the tone of leadership. You will never find a better example over the last several years. President Obama presided over a weak pathetic economy. He was not a businessman. Taxes rose, the Stimulus, the Obama Care debacle, etc, etc,etc. then when Trump became President things changed. Taxes were lowered, regulations were reduced, businesses were persuaded to return to the US, trade agreements,etc,etc,etc. The difference is stark, if you care to notice. 9.4-12.0 Trillion infused into the economy, record stock, record employment #’s, best employment numbers in 49 years, etc,etc,etc. politicians certainly set the tone and initiate policies that make a cumulative difference in the economy. This is true on both micro and macro levels. Don’t be silly Joe. Grab a book on the Great Depression by Galbreth (sp?). Emotions drive the market.Politicians create emotional reactions to their policies.

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