House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan , center, looks at his watch before the start of the first budget conference committee meeting.
Republican and Democratic appropriators alike are telling budget conferees to get a deal on a topline spending number sooner rather than later.
Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Sen. Barbara A. Mikluski, D-Md., sent a letter to the top members of the bicameral, bipartisan budget conference committee Thursday, asking them to “make reaching an agreement on the FY 2014 and FY 2015 discretionary spending caps your first priority.”
They want that number by Dec. 2 at the latest, though preferably by Nov. 22. Waiting until Dec. 13 would leave the chairmen of the Appropriations committees just a month before the Jan. 15 deadline to finish the 12 outstanding appropriations bills.
“While both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will try with all our might to meet this tight deadline, it is clear that a much better product would result with additional time for Members to conference these critical bills,” the letter said.
Rogers and Mikluski want an agreement to include the 2015 spending level to avoid a repetition of this year’s impasse over budget plans that are $90 billion apart. The House, which has the lower number, has been able to finish its appropriations bills with sequester-level spending cuts in place.
“The House and Senate should mark-up and pass the 12 appropriations bill for the next fiscal year in a timely way, proceed to conference, send each of the individual bills to the President and avoid yet another budget crisis or ‘shutdown showdown,’” they continued.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, said the conference “should pick up the pace of the negotiations so we can get an agreement by Thanksgiving and give the Appropriations Committees time to do their work.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.