WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Cole is optimistic a budget deal can be struck in the next few days that would avert a government shutdown next month and restore some sense of order and partisan cooperation to Congress.
The resolution that ended the October government shutdown extended funding only through Jan. 15. Though another shutdown isn't likely, lawmakers from both parties would prefer to pass a real budget rather than another stopgap measure.
Cole, R-Moore, is one of the House members on the panel negotiating an agreement. But recent talks have been mostly between the top two budget leaders in the House and Senate, and Cole said he wasn't sure about the details of a deal that may emerge.
“I'm going to be optimistic because everything I hear is good,” Cole said. “They're getting closer. I think we'll probably get there.”
The next challenge, he said, would be finding enough Republican and Democratic votes to pass it in the House.
Cole said any deal should ease the planned budget cuts on the Department of Defense and other agencies without reducing the savings from those cuts.
Media reports have suggested that Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who heads the Senate Budget Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, have talked about changes to the pension system for federal workers and some federal fee increases to raise the amount of money available for defense and other domestic needs.
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