By Andrew Duehren
WASHINGTON -- Top lawmakers said they reached a tentative agreement on federal government spending, giving Congress and the White House about a week to approve the particulars before funding runs out after Dec. 20.
"There's a meeting of the minds," said House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.). However, the White House has not yet signed off on it, administration officials said.
The agreement follows a meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the leaders of the two committees on Thursday.
Leaving that meeting, Mr. Mnuchin said that negotiators were focusing on a small list of remaining issues and that he planned to update President Trump on the talks later Thursday.
The details of the agreement, which covers nearly $1.4 trillion in government spending across a dozen bills, weren't immediately known.
Before the announcement of a deal, lawmakers and a White House official said that the two sides were approaching a resolution on the most contentious spending issue: a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Under a proposal weighed during the negotiations, Congress would approve roughly the same amount of funding it did last fiscal year for building the wall -- $1.38 billion -- while leaving the president's ability to redirect government funds untouched.
Such an agreement would represent a compromise for both President Trump, who asked for $8.6 billion for the wall in his budget request, and Democrats, who have sought to block new funding for the wall and curb the president's ability to redesignate money to build it.
Deep disagreements about paying for the border wall have racked the spending process for years, holding up hundreds of billions in other funding and leading to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history that ended earlier this year. Congress has temporarily extended funding twice in the last few months as the two sides haggled over the border wall, a central priority for Mr. Trump.
With the tentative deal reached Thursday, lawmakers will still face a tight schedule to pass each of the dozen annual spending bills before the last stopgap measure expires after Dec. 20 -- and many lawmakers plan to head home for the holidays. House members said they aim to bring packages of the bills to the floor on Tuesday, giving the Senate just days to decide on the legislation before the end of next week.
"We're looking at the funnel," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "Next week is the end of it."
Without an agreement, the federal government would still not likely run out of money, as Mrs. Pelosi has repeatedly vowed to avert another government shutdown and Mr. Trump has privately told advisers that he wants to avoid a funding lapse.
But lawmakers are also eager to avoid passing yet another temporary funding fix and enact budget increases negotiated this summer. The duration of any additional stopgap measure would likely compete with the likely impeachment trial of President Trump in the Senate.
Write to Andrew Duehren at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 12, 2019 17:34 ET (22:34 GMT)
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