Paul Krawzak

Mnuchin says there is a topline agreement on spending caps and debt limit
Treasury secretary says talks continue on offsets and structure of a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that agreement has been reached on spending levels for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 as well as a two-year extension of the debt limit.

“The good news is we’ve reached an agreement between the administration, the House and the Senate on topline numbers for both year one and year two. We’re now discussing offsets as well as certain structural issues. And we’ve agreed as part of that deal there would be a long-term, two-year debt ceiling increase,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So, I think, all of our first choice is to reach an overall agreement and we’re working hard to do that. But if for whatever reason we don’t get there in time, I am encouraging a debt ceiling increase.”

Debt limit may be reached before end of August recess, Mnuchin says
Treasury secretary formally notified Congress of the uncertainty on Friday

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put his request on paper for Congress to act on the debt ceiling before the August recess, writing to congressional leaders Friday that there’s a chance Treasury could run out of cash in early September.

“Since there is a reasonable uncertainty in projecting government cash flows, it is impossible to identify precisely how long extraordinary measures will last,” Mnuchin wrote in his four-sentence letter, referencing accounting maneuvers Treasury can engage in to carve out room under the $22 trillion debt limit.

Why there's no Senate spending plan as deadline nears
CQ Budget podcast, Episode 117

CBO: Raising the minimum wage to $15 could boost pay of up to 27 million workers
The agency found nearly doubling the federal minimum wage could cost 1.3 million jobs when fully implemented by 2025

The Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Monday that nearly doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour could cost 1.3 million jobs when fully implemented by 2025, though millions would see higher wages and the number of Americans living in poverty would decrease.

The report made clear that its estimate of 1.3 million potential job losses, which would equal roughly 0.8 percent of the workforce, was a median forecast, and that job losses could be substantially smaller — or larger. In a worst-case scenario, some 3.7 million jobs could be lost, the agency said. On the other hand, wages could rise for as many as 27 million workers.

Congress returns to pressure to get spending deals done
Key to budget deal is agreement between Pelosi and Trump, GOP senator says

With only a month to go before the August recess and three months until the end of the fiscal year, House leaders will not bring the two remaining fiscal 2020 appropriations bills — Homeland Security and Legislative Branch — to the floor due to divisions within the Democratic caucus over those bills and diminishing floor time.

Some Democrats are opposed to an inflation adjustment to lawmaker salaries, as allowed in the Legislative Branch bill. Other Democrats are opposed to immigration and border funding provisions in the Homeland Security bill.

Familiar offsets could resurface in spending caps talks
Budget watchdog groups start to dust off older proposals, as well as some new ones

Another year, another spending caps negotiation — accordingly it’s time once again to check the couch cushions for “pay-fors” just innocuous enough to skate by without kicking up too much lobbying dust.

For instance, extending automatic cuts to Medicare and dozens of other “mandatory” spending accounts, which have become so routine they’re almost unnoticed, has been a mainstay of all three deals in the last five years to relieve the pressure on appropriators. Extending fees collected by Customs and Border Protection on passenger and cargo arrivals in the U.S., first enacted in 1985, has been rolled over constantly as a go-to offset for all manner of legislation, including the 2013 and 2018 spending deals.

CBO: US debt growth is slowing, but is still headed for record highs
If debt growth continues, it will surpass the current record high set in fiscal 1946 after the massive World War II military buildup

Federal debt held by the public will nearly double as a share of the U.S. economy, from 78 percent today to 144 percent by fiscal 2049, the Congressional Budget Office projected Tuesday.

By contrast, the record high currently stands at 106 percent of gross domestic product, in fiscal 1946 after the massive World War II military buildup; that record is likely to be breached in fiscal 2037 under the CBO’s updated scenario.

Emergency border funds face delays as money and time run short
House Democrats face possible revolt, Rand Paul threatens to hold up action in Senate

Swift passage of billions of dollars in emergency aid to help care for tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, many of them children, was in doubt Monday night as House Democrats were facing a possible revolt and a lone Republican senator was holding up action across the Capitol.

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made their concerns known to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about their chamber’s $4.5 billion package that leaders wanted to put on the floor Tuesday.

Tempers flare as leaders, White House fall short on spending deal
Failure to reach agreement after top-level meeting in Capitol

A meeting of top White House officials and congressional leaders broke up Wednesday without agreement on topline funding allocations for appropriators, raising fresh doubts over their ability to avert another fiscal crisis later this year.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of upping the ante on nondefense spending from what they’d put on the table previously.

Border spending bill sent to Senate floor, but House may act on its version first
Measure provides slightly less than Trump administration sought, but got bipartisan support from Senate appropriators

Senate appropriators approved $4.59 billion in emergency funding Wednesday to address the influx of migrants at the southern border, and their House counterparts said they’re prepping a similar bill to bring to the floor as soon as Tuesday.

The measure appropriators sent to the Senate floor provides slightly less than President Donald Trump’s administration had requested, but leaders of both parties said it did not include “poison pills” that could block passage.

Congressional leaders, White House give spending caps talks another try
Fall government shutdown looms if both sides can’t agree on a deal

White House officials plan to meet with congressional leaders Wednesday — for the second time in as many months — to reach a deal on spending limits that would prevent another government shutdown this fall.

The first meeting, on May 21, produced some initial hopes that a bipartisan deal could be reached relatively quickly, avoiding a breakdown in the appropriations process when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Spending talks between White House, Hill leadership to resume Wednesday
A round of meetings on May 21 with the same principals involved got off to a positive start, but then petered out in the afternoon

The four top congressional leaders from both parties plan to sit down again Wednesday morning with senior Trump administration officials to try to hammer out an agreement on next year’s spending levels.

The talks at the Capitol will include acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and acting budget director Russell Vought, according to sources familiar with the plans.

The politics behind spending limit negotiations
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 114

New legislative affairs chief Ueland has his work cut out for him
One staffer, no matter how talented, may not be enough to curb Trump’s mercurial tendencies, Hill veterans say

Eric Ueland begins his new job Monday as President Donald Trump’s legislative affairs director, bringing with him hopes for a more productive working relationship between the White House and Congress as Trump heads into the final year of his first term. 

During more than two decades as a top Senate Republican aide, Ueland built a reputation as an effective strategist for conservative legislative efforts, with a knack for using the Senate’s rules to achieve the majority’s goals.

Ex-CBO director knocks GOP on Obamacare and Congress for rising deficits
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 112

In an usually candid interview with CQ Roll Call's budget reporter Paul Krawzak, the recently departed Congressional Budget Office director Keith Hall said the often secretive process the Republicans followed defeated their effort to repeal Obamacare. He also urged Congress to deal with the rising deficits that will fall on the backs of younger Americans, saying that in the coming decade 50 percent of federal funding will be spent on just 20 percent of the population -- people who are 65 and older.

Show Notes:

GOP blew Obamacare repeal, not us, former CBO director says
Keith Hall said if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, it’s Republicans themselves

Outgoing Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall held his fire when the agency was under attack in 2017 for estimating that a repeal of the 2010 health care law would throw millions of people off health insurance.

Now that he is leaving the agency, he can speak more freely. In an interview in his office last week, Hall said if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, it’s Republicans themselves.

Republicans reviewing Democrats’ latest disaster aid offer
Chair declined to provide offer details, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week

Republican negotiators are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims that would also handle a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., declined to provide details on the offer, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week.

White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal Tuesday
“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says

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.

Trump officials, congressional leaders make ‘progress’ on budget talks
A follow-up meeting is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon

Congressional leaders and top Trump administration officials made “progress” toward a spending caps and debt limit agreement during a two-hour meeting Tuesday morning and are planning to meet again in the afternoon, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The meeting included Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought as well as Mulvaney.

Disaster bill negotiators drop divisive harbor fund provision
Senate and House negotiators hoping for a deal before Memorial Day recess

Updated 10:06 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said he has pulled his divisive proposed change in the Harbor Maintenance Fund from consideration in the long-stalled disaster and border supplemental package after meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Alabama Republican also said Trump appeared to support the level of border funding in the package, and White House officials indicated they see the emergency legislation becoming law soon.