House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011, when the battle over a soaring national debt first paralyzed Washington.According to The Post, the possible deal would set spending levels at just over $1 trillion for this fiscal year and next, levels which would be historically low but would nonetheless exceed the targets specified in 2011 Budget Control Act and would be just under $50 billion over the sequester spending levels for fiscal 2014.
The deal wouldn't be a "Grand Bargain," but it would avoid a government shutdown. However, significant questions remain, the most important of which is whether the deal would extend unemployment insurance for workers who are continuing to struggle to find jobs.
Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for a budget deal to include an unemployment insurance extension. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray echoed Pelosi's request, but Republicans are resisting, saying the request:
“Literally came out of nowhere [...] and it is totally disingenuous of them to put this in play at this point,” one Republican familiar with the talks said. “They know the impact this will have on our side of the aisle, so I can only read this as a deliberate attempt to blow up any deal.”But even if the legislation were to punt on unemployment insurance, Republicans may still torpedo any deal—of any sort:
Republican leaders may prove unable to rally support for the agreement. Boehner has a long history of overestimating his ability to deliver Republican votes. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been notably unenthusiastic about repealing the sequester, which he has characterized as the most important prize of the GOP crusade to reduce government spending.In the end, at least some Republicans are going to threaten to block whatever deal is on the table—you can take that to the bank. But you can also be sure that in the end, even if there's another brief shutdown, Republicans will cave—there's no way they will want to endure the political circus of yet another extended shutdown. Democrats need to realize this, and insist on extending emergency unemployment benefits. As long as they are willing to fight for them, this is not a battle The Grinch can win.
On the other hand, Republicans have also been unable to pass spending bills that include the sequester cuts.