Budget Talks Underway During Recess

Budget Talks Underway During Recess

WASHINGTON — Senior members and aides are working on a compromise 2016 budget resolution even as the rest of Congress takes a two-week break.

Before adjourning late last week until April 13, the House and Senate each passed federal spending plans that keep in place defense and domestic spending caps. Both measures also inflate the Pentagon’s war account well above the Obama administration’s $50.9 billion request.

The House-passed resolution proposed a $96 billion war fund, while the Senate’s version includes an $89 billion account.

The final size of that account, the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund, is just one issue House and Senate conferees must iron out. They are working toward a nominal April 15 deadline, but it is widely expected they will need more time.

House and Senate Budget Committee leaders and party bosses have yet to name the members who will compose the conference committee.

Aides from both chambers say it is unclear when conferees will be formally named.

“We will be naming conferees, but not sure on timing as we need to be in session,” one Senate aide said.

A House aide offered a more definitive timeline, saying, “Right now, I’d say that conferees are likely to be appointed the first week back after the recess.”

That announcement might be two weeks away, but the aides said negotiations are underway.

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