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White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal

Jennifer Shutt, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on spending caps and the debt limit Tuesday, hours after a two-year deal seemed possible.

"Deals like this take time," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after leaving an afternoon meeting between congressional leaders and administration officials.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said one of the biggest questions remaining was how to fund the "needs of the middle class on the domestic side."

The developments came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a two-year budget deal to raise spending limits and possibly the debt ceiling could be reached as early as Tuesday.

If leaders had struck an agreement on the same day talks began, it would have broken with recent history. Two-year budget deals have typically been highly contentious affairs, requiring months of negotiation.

Congressional leaders and administration officials are likely to meet again soon to continue discussing spending levels and the debt limit, but that meeting won't take place Tuesday, according to a Democratic aide.


McConnell's statement early Tuesday afternoon came after a closed-door, two-hour meeting between top White House officials and the top four congressional leaders of both parties.

"The agreement would be a two-year caps deal, which would allow us to go forward with some semblance, at least, of a regular appropriations process," McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told reporters.

Action on the debt limit, which was reinstated in March, would also likely be part of any deal, McConnell said.

Schumer didn't want to put a similar timetable on the negotiations as his GOP counterpart had indicated. "There are still some significant issues outstanding, particularly the domestic spending side issues," the New York Democrat said earlier Tuesday. "But we're having good discussions."


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