WASHINGTON — Budget negotiators who are racing to prevent another
The contours of the agreement being crafted by Republican Rep.
According to those familiar with the private talks, the deal would replace about half of the nearly $100 billion in upcoming sequester cuts for 2014 — which will automatically slash budgets for defense and social programs after Jan. 15 — with a combination of new fees, revenues and modest spending reductions.
Lawmakers from both parties are eager to avoid the full brunt of the next round of sequester cuts, which they fear will cut too deeply and indiscriminately into the Defense Department budget and social programs, like Head Start for preschoolers. There would be no new taxes, which
The deal would set annual spending for the 2014 fiscal year at around $1 trillion -- midway between the $967 billion demanded by the most conservative Republicans, and the $1.058 trillion pursued by
Murray and Ryan continue to negotiate, and the senator returned to the Capital on Wednesday while the Senate is on recess to continue talks. Many details have yet to be worked out, sources said.
Politically, a deal could help both parties rebound from the damaging government shutdown by preventing another one.
But a deal also poses political risks for hard-line conservatives, especially tea party newcomers who have staked their young careers on cutting government.
Undoing the sequester would force conservatives to abandon the deep cuts that have emerged as their main trophy from the past three years of budget battles with the White House.
Passing such a package would require Speaker
Already, outside conservative groups are criticizing the outlines of the deal.
Ryan, the conservative budget committee chairman from Wisconsin, has had sizable influence over the party's right flank, and his backing of a deal could help provide momentum.
At the same time, the deal is also sure to disappoint more moderate lawmakers, and some Democrats, who had hoped for a more sweeping budget accord — a grand bargain that would have greatly reduced deficits and put fiscal matters on a more certain path, potentially ending the cycle of crisis governing that has come to define Washington.
Others, though, welcomed even a modest deal.
"Let's just hit some singles around here for a while," he said. "We don't need to swing for the fences. Our batting average isn't very good."