A new round of congressional budget talks began on 30 October, but both political parties are downplaying hopes for a broad budget deal. Many lawmakers and political insiders expect a small-scale plan from the budget committee formed by the deal to reopen the federal government after a 16-day shutdown. The group of 29 members of Congress has until 13 December to negotiate a deal.

Several members of the conference committee have expressed a desire to find a replacement for the automatic spending cuts known as budget sequestration. In federal fiscal year 2014, the sequester will reduce federal spending by about $20 billion from current levels.

“A deal that redid the sequester for a short period of time is something we could talk about,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), who serves as ranking member of the House Budget Committee. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has also suggested that he would like to replace budget sequestration.

One issue for the negotiators, as in past budget talks, will be how to decrease the deficit. Republicans have insisted on balancing the budget by cutting spending, not through raising new revenues. Meanwhile, Democrats largely oppose changes to costly entitlement programs, such as Social Security.


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