The House-Senate conference committee charged with agreeing on a budget resolution is just over a week out from its December 13 deadline, but it is unclear how close they are to a deal. Roll Call reported that the two chairmen, Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray, are zeroing in on a resolution that would allow the government to spend more than current law permits, but not as much as Democrats would like. However, The Hill reported that Chairman Ryan had not informed Speaker John Boehner of any deal, and Lisa Desjardins of CNN reported on Twitter that Representative Chris Van Hollen, who serves on the committee, said there would be no deal by Thursday evening.
If the conference committee is able to come to some kind of accord, there is still the question of whether it would pass Congress. Some have wondered whether the increased spending would lead Tea Party members to oppose it from the right. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that her party would oppose a budget that does not provide unemployment benefits. Outside of Congress, two federal workers unions, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, pledged to oppose an agreement requiring their members to contribute more to their retirement funds.
If Congress is frustrated with the President and vice versa, the American public gets the picture. Around 57 percent of the country says that Executive-Legislative relations were better in the past than they were in 2013. A majority also thinks that their relationship will fare about the same in 2014. Younger respondents tended to evaluate the President and Congress more favorably than their elders.
Merry Christmas, constituents! Happy Hanukkah, America! For some time, Members of the House were prohibited from including holiday wishes in their communications with constituents. On Wednesday, House Administration Committee Chairman Candice Miller announced that the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards voted to permit greetings like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” when they are incidental to the mailing. They are not, however, permitted to mail correspondence whose sole purpose is a holiday greeting, like Christmas cards.
And for our latest blog post: Flattening the Rules: The Implications of the Senate Nuclear Option