Budget Talks Stall

With their meeting shortened by House and Senate floor action, negotiators made little progress on the budget Tuesday, as Republicans insisted they have a Friday deadline for reaching a budget accord.

"It wasn't a big success story today," Senate Budget Chairman Domenici said after the meeting. Asked if a deal is possible by Friday, Domenici said, "We're working at it."

However, negotiators have not agreed on Medicare, Medicaid and discretionary savings or the size of a tax cut, the issues that plagued them during the budget talks of the 104th Congress.

Tuesday's meeting centered on non-health entitlement issues and the Clinton administration education initiative. OMB Director Raines said the administration's FY98 budget includes $62 billion in non-health entitlement savings, although the CBO has estimated those savings at only $57 billion. White House officials want the negotiators to accept at least $57 billion in non-health entitlement savings, he said.

Negotiators had said Monday they felt they could agree on between $45 billion and $55 billion in savings in some smaller entitlement programs. House Budget Chairman Kasich minimized this, however, saying negotiators had been able to agree on those savings during the difficult budget negotiations of the 104th Congress. Referring to White House Chief of Staff Panetta, with whom Republicans had a stormy relationship, Kasich said, "We could even agree with Leon on those things."

However, a senior administration official said Tuesday the negotiations are much further along than last year at this time.

"We're having discussions in the spring that you normally don't have on the budget `til the fall," the official said. The source also said while the two sides are "narrowing" their differences on Medicare, a gap remains.

The White House has offered "two explicit overtures" toward reaching an agreement on the Medicare spending reductions, but Republicans so far have refused the offers, the official said.

The White House last week offered an additional $18 billion in Medicare savings, but Domenici said Republicans want additional savings of between $10 billion and $30 billion.

In addition to the non-health entitlements, the negotiators discussed the Clinton education initiatives, Raines said, adding the administration delivered "a clear understanding of the central importance of education to any budget proposal."

Sen. John Breaux, D-La., a key member of the Senate centrist coalition, said any budget deal must be made by the "center." He said that in addition to a set level of Medicare savings, a budget deal should include comprehensive Medicare reform, and that the budget negotiators should split the difference between CBO and OMB economic assumptions.

Meanwhile, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee voted Tuesday to increase President Clinton's supplemental spending request for national parks repairs from $277 million to $380 million to cover the cost of repairs in parks not originally included in the request.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.