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Budget Conferees Meet, Disagree on Taxes

October 31, 2013—House and Senate budget conferees met publicly for the first time Oct. 30 and immediately made it clear that taxes remain a major obstacle to an agreement.

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) opened his remarks by stating, “If this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we’re not going to get anywhere. The way to raise revenue is to grow the economy. We need to write a tax code that encourages economic growth — not stifles it.”

In her opening statement, Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said, “[C]ompromise runs both ways. While we scour programs to find responsible savings, Republicans are also going to have to work with us to scour the bloated tax code — and close some wasteful tax loopholes and special interest subsidies. Because it is unfair — and unacceptable — to ask seniors and families to bear this burden alone.”

A major focus for conferees will be to determine a spending ceiling for discretionary (appropriated) funds in FY 2014. The current continuing resolution (P.L. 113-46) continues funding for federal programs at an annualized rate of $986 billion through Jan. 15 [see Washington Highlights, Oct. 18]. Unless conferees can agree on an alternative, sequestration will result in nearly $20 billion in additional spending cuts after Jan. 15.

Both sides expressed support for replacing sequestration.  Murray said, “So let’s start with something we do agree on. Democrats and Republicans have said replacing sequestration should be a priority for this budget conference.”

Ryan agreed, saying, “We all agree there’s a smarter way to cut spending.” But some Republicans are adamant about retaining the savings from the sequester.  Referring to the spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “We are going to hold to these numbers.”

The next meeting of the conferees is scheduled for Nov. 13.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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