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White House, Congress Close In On Budget Deal

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Laura Barron-Lopez
ATHENA IMAGE © Gabriella Demczuk via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

WASHINGTON -- The White House and congressional leaders appear close to finalizing a critical budget deal that would increase domestic spending moderately over the next two years and raise the nation’s debt ceiling in the nick of time.

The deal, which could be announced as early as Monday evening, would help avoid another showdown between Republicans and Democrats as the House GOP works through growing pains as it prepares for new leadership. A White House source on Monday confirmed reports that a deal was near, but didn’t offer additional details.

So far, the White House and congressional leaders are working toward a two-year budget deal that would increase the debt ceiling through March 2017, according to a congressional aide, who added that the deal is close to coming together.

One issue notably left out of talks is reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which a majority of Democrats support.

Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed back against reports as speculation. 

"The Leader said publicly from the beginning that he would like two-year certainty and that any increase in spending would have to be fully offset," Stewart said. "But nothing new to report."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest cautioned on Monday that “not everything has been agreed to; that means nothing has been agreed to.”

A New York Times report added that according to officials briefed on talks, the deal could cut spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.

A Democratic official, hoping to assuage progressive concerns about the possibility of those cuts, told The Huffington Post that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would play a critical role in the talks. She "is in the room ... and very much at the table," said the official. 

Indeed, Pelosi on Friday talked up progress that leaders had made with in negotiations over the budget deal. 

A two-year deal on budget and the debt limit would make good on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) promise to "clean the barn" before he retires at the end of this month, and protect his successor from heading straight into battle as early as December -- when Congress would hit its next budget deadline.

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