President Donald Trump’s budget negotiators are planning to meet with Republican leaders at the Capitol Wednesday to try and wriggle out of a stalemate with Democrats ahead of a series of key fiscal deadlines.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought are set to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday afternoon, according to administration and congressional sources familiar with the meeting.
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The Republican-only confab comes as congressional leaders are seeking a two-year budget deal to avoid stiff budget cuts, a debt ceiling breach and government shutdown this fall.
Separately, Mnuchin is set to speak again with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday by telephone about a budget deal. The two spoke Tuesday, even as Pelosi dismissed the idea of more meetings with Trump officials to revive stalled talks.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have sought increases in domestic spending to go along with the bumps in defense spending that Republicans prefer. The administration has rejected those entreaties so far and is arguing instead for a year-long spending freeze, though many Senate Republicans say that’s nearly as bad as the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
Mnuchin is also arguing for a quick lift to the debt limit, which could be hit as soon as mid-September. Congressional leaders had sought to tackle the debt ceiling alongside a budget deal, but the stalled progress on spending could force separate action to avoid the kind of financial crisis that could come with a debt default.