Senate Dems set principles for potential budget negotiation

Senate Dems set principles for potential budget negotiation
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The Senate’s Democratic leadership has outlined the principles they would want to follow in a possible budget negotiation, despite few indications that Republicans are planning on bringing them into the process any time soon

In a letter sent Monday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller Senate spending plan boosts House moderates Cruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda Senate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Overnight Finance: CBO finds 22M more uninsured under Senate health bill | GOP agrees ObamaCare taxes must go | Supreme Court to look at Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections | More tax reform hearings | Green light for partial travel ban | MORE (R-Miss.), Democrats called for eliminating the tough spending caps of budget sequestration, which would significantly cut both defense and nondefense spending levels. 

They also reiterated their support for the parity principal, by which defense and nondefense spending would increase at the same rate. Republicans were able to break the parity principal in May’s deal on 2017 spending levels, and are unlikely to agree to its return.

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Democrats also called for eliminating “poison pill riders” such as defunding Planned Parenthood, and specifically opposed spending for Trump’s proposed border wall.

Current spending authority goes through Sept. 30, and failure to pass new spending bills will lead to a government shutdown.

“We are confident that the two parties can resolve our differences before then if we oppose the cuts proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, and instead adhere to the principles laid out above,” said the letter, signed by top Democratic leaders including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSchumer: Dems didn't 'tell people what we stood for' in 2016 Schumer: Dems, not Russia, are to blame for loss to Trump Repair is the only “R” word that can solve our healthcare woes MORE (N.Y.), Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinTop Dem: Trump’s voter fraud commission will accomplish what Putin wants Senators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him Graham and Kushner met to discuss immigration differences: report MORE (Ill.) and Appropriations Committee ranking member Pat Leahy (Vt.). 

While moderate Republicans have argued that a bipartisan deal will be necessary to eventually stave off a shutdown, the GOP has so far focused on unifying around its own priorities. 

Spending bills will require the support of at least eight Democrats in the Senate to overcome a filibuster.

The House Budget Committee has come around to a plan that would increase defense spending above the levels Trump proposed, but also significantly reduce the nondefense cuts. The committee is considering demanding $200 billion in cuts to entitlement programs as part of its reconciliation instructions, a key demand of the House Freedom Caucus. 

Last week, Republicans said that the wider conference was still in the early stages of forming a consensus around spending levels and an appropriations strategy.