Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said a budget conference agreement expected by the end of next week is “very, very close, yet far away.”
The conference is being led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Clyburn is also involved in the talks.
“I think that you know that we on the Democratic side are very, very leery of putting together any kind of a budget deal that tends to rest too heavily on people who have fixed incomes. We don’t wanna see a budget deal that would cost jobs, we wanna see a budget deal that would include the unemployment insurance,” he said on MSNBC, referencing the latest extension Dems are seeking before the end of the year.
“We want a budget deal that will do something about the sequester. We believed that that ought to be done away with. And so — I think the Republicans feel the same way,” Clyburn continued.
“Now we are far apart because we cannot seem to find the common ground on how to pay for all this. We don’t wanna pay for it by resting on the backs of people on fixed income, the Republicans seem to wanna do that. We want to find ways to close some of these loop holes and they don’t want to do that.”
Clyburn said the problem is “you agree to something and you look around, and the goal post get moved.”
“So we on the Democratic side are not going to agree to anything until everything is agreed to,” he added.
They’re also still haggling over the pay-fors — airline fees or selling airwave spectrums, for example — for the goal of a two-year suspension of sequestration.
Clyburn also wants a Medicare doc fix. “We need to do something about that in order to improve the attitudes that the health care providers will have when dealing with people on fixed incomes,” he said. “So all of that should be dealt with. And until we decide which ones of those that we will deal with, we don’t know how much money anything would yield.”
The “magic date” to avoid a shutdown is Jan. 15, but he said he “wouldn’t be surprised if we will not come together by the 13th of December.”