Liberal Democrats may block leadership-backed budget measure

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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said Tuesday it’s time to kick off bipartisan talks on a new budget pact to fund federal agencies over the next two years.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters that he spoke with President Donald Trump last week and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday morning, and that both support trying to reach an agreement on a new, higher spending level for both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

A new funding agreement is needed to prevent the return of spending cuts under the remnants of a failed 2011 budget and debt agreement.

Trump’s budget, submitted last month, would give a sharp increase to the Pentagon but would cut back domestic programs, a nonstarter for Democrats controlling the House. Any bipartisan agreement would renounce Trump’s budget.

McConnell’s comments came as liberal Democrats signaled opposition to a budget measure backed by Pelosi and other House party leaders, saying not enough money is included for liberal priorities. The proposal would increase spending for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

Progressives such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington are pushing for significantly higher spending for domestic programs, saying the Pentagon budget is bloated while domestic programs are being shortchanged.

The opposition from the House Progressive Caucus could prompt Democratic leaders to cancel a vote that had been tentatively slated for Wednesday.

The Trump White House and House Republicans also oppose the leadership’s proposal, saying increases for the Pentagon are insufficient; moderate Democrats are opposed to the liberals’ proposal.

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