WASHINGTON Nov 18 Top Republicans on the House
Appropriations Committee on Monday urged budget negotiators to
agree on spending levels for two years by Dec. 2 so that
Congress can pass annual spending bills and avoid another
Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers and 12
subcommittee chairs warned in a letter that failure to agree on
spending caps could lead to another shutdown and waste the
"If a timely agreement is not reached, the likely
alternatives could have extremely damaging repercussions," the
lawmakers said in their letter to House Budget Committee
Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray.
Ryan and Murray are currently holding closed-door talks to
try to reach consensus on easing automatic spending cuts that
would take a $91 billion bite out of 2014 spending on federal
agencies and discretionary programs. They are racing against a
Jan. 15 deadline, when spending authority for programs ranging
from the military to education expires.
The talks were commissioned under a deal to end a 16-day
government shutdown in October that was prompted by a similar
Reaching a two-year deal would require significantly more
savings in other areas and would be more difficult to reach, as
Republicans have refused to consider increased tax revenues and
Democrats have resisted major cuts to federal benefits programs
such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
But the Appropriations Committee Republicans said that it
was important to address funding for fiscal 2015 to avoid a
major logjam in the passage of spending bills next year due to
automatic "sequester" cuts.
Congress has not passed normal spending bills since 2009,
funding the government since then through temporary and stop-gap
measures known as continuing resolutions, often with shutdown
"Failure to agree on a common spending cap for FY 2015 will
guarantee another year of confusion," the Appropriations
Committee members wrote.