Fiscal deadlines fade for months as Congress to shift focus

‘Simply Unsustainable’

Over the longer term, Kennedy said in testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee March 14, “it is simply unsustainable.”

During the deadline lull, talk about a potential “grand bargain” on the budget won’t vanish.

President Barack Obama met with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate last week, reiterating his pitch for a plan that would pair cuts in future spending for entitlement programs such as Medicare with additional tax revenue.

While those conversations occur, the extra breathing room could benefit consideration of a five-year reauthorization of U.S. agriculture policy that would replace direct payments to farmers with a more insurance-based safety net, said Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

“I believe the oxygen level will be higher, and you need that kind of environment to be able to get into the really detailed policy issues,” he said. “And the farm bill is detailed, intense, policy-focused material.”

Taxes, Immigration

Representative James Lankford, a member of the House Republican leadership, cited a tax overhaul and immigration as issues expected to get attention in coming months.

At the same time, he said, lawmakers are aware that the next debt-ceiling standoff is only months away, with no clarity on how it will be resolved.

“I wish it did leave more room for the things that we need to do,” said the Oklahoman. “We are kind of like a family that fights about money all the time. Once you get into debt everything is about money, and that’s where we are now.”

Bloomberg News

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