House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday called for a budget conference between the House and Senate to wrap up by Thanksgiving instead of the Dec. 13 deadline set under the agreement to end the government shutdown.
Lawmakers reopened the government after a 16-day shutdown last week and pushed off the threat of a U.S. default until early next year after agreeing to bridge the huge gap between Republicans and Democrats on budgetary issues.
Pelosi said finding consensus earlier will restore consumer confidence during the holiday season.
“We are prepared to go to the negotiating table to work with Republicans,” Pelosi said, adding that any deal cut should be beneficial to the middle class and not hurt seniors and others.
President Barack Obama and Democrats promised Republicans that they would have wide-ranging negotiations over the budget and other fiscal matters once the 800,000 furloughed federal workers returned to work and the debt limit increased.
The gridlock between Democrats and Republicans drew the public’s ire and sent Congress’ approval to a new low. Only 12 percent of Americans approved of the job Congress is doing while 85 percent said they disapprove, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. It was the worst rating recorded by those researchers since 1989.
The public’s displeasure was enough to have lawmakers feeling remorse, as both parties have promised to work with each other to find areas of common ground. But similar attempts to do just that in the past have failed, and even the House and Senate budget leaders have said themselves that they both may both not like the plan the other proposes.
Still, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said, “We are getting back to regular order.” And Sen. Pat Murray, D-Wash., added, “We’re going to find the common ground between our two budgets, and that’s our goal.” They are the chairmen of the budget committees.
Based on Pelosi’s speech at Wednesday press conference, it looks like the negotiation will be difficult. She said the American people cannot afford “another Republican government shutdown” but said Democrats will be opposed to replacing the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as a sequester with slashes to Medicare and giving additional tax cuts to millionaires.