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U.S. budget negotiators eye two-year funding deal -Rep. Cole

November 21, 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. budget talks are aiming for a two-year deal that would end divisive fiscal showdowns that have plagued Congress since 2011, while also easing the severe across-the-board spending cuts that otherwise would trigger in 2014 and 2015, a Republican negotiator said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said that the 29-member Senate-House negotiating committee “would like to achieve” a two-year budget. And while he said the talks were “close” to a deal, he emphasized that details were still being debated.

A two-year deal, Cole said, would help Congress pass spending bills in a more efficient manner and ease off the series of government shutdown threats that have been in play since 2011. The threat turned into reality last month when many federal agencies were shuttered for 16 days after government funding ran out on October 1.

“It would ease a lot of the tension around here,” Cole said.

While he would not provide specifics of the deal being negotiated, the six-term lawmaker characterized it this way:

‘It’s likely to be a pretty small deal, something that trades some relatively modest savings and perhaps some small entitlement reforms and maybe a little dab of revenue somehow.”

Such a deal, Cole said, would “loosen up the sequester” that requires annual across-the-board spending cuts of around $100 billion a year. Those cuts would hit the Pentagon and an array of other agencies that oversee everything from environmental programs to medical research and national parks.