Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tentatively reached a deal on spending levels for fiscal 2020 in a government funding bill that would accompany an increase in the national debt ceiling, but then something happened.
Mnuchin and Pelosi reportedly agreed to a deal that could increase spending for defense and domestic programs by equal amounts, but while Mnuchin seemingly carried the word of the White House, the White House sent a new proposal to House Democrats last night that called for $150 billion in non-defense spending cuts.
Bloomberg first reported the news late last night.
The extended talks mean Congress and the White House will be pushing up against Pelosi’s deadline to get a deal on spending levels and the debt ceiling done before the House leaves town for its August recess. The Trump administration late Thursday gave Democrats a menu of $574 billion in savings options from which to find $150 billion to offset the costs of a two-year budget cap agreement.
Lawmakers thought they would have have a bill to begin marking up today, but that now seems unlikely unless they move a bill that Trump won't sign.
CNN reports that congressional Democrats believe Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is behind this new proposal, and that checks out. I doubt Trump knows any of the specifics of federal spending much less which programs conservatives would like to cut. Trump only sees and knows what Mulvaney and Fox News put in front of him.
I don't think this is going to end with us breaching the national debt ceiling, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see the passage of a short-term bill that pushes this fight over spending a little further down the road, perhaps to December.
You don't have to step out on a long limb to see that happening as it has happened almost every single year since Republicans first gained partial control of Congress in 2011.
At the end of the day, I expect Trump will listen to Mnuchin over Mulvaney because, in his coal-black heart, Trump knows Mulvaney is a stooge.