Even as conservatives in both chambers are clamoring for spending cuts, not just to Planned Parenthood but to a slew of nondefense programs, Republican leaders are preparing to begin making a deal with President Obama to raise spending caps that will hit next year.
On Wednesday, Congress will pass a continuing resolution funding the government for just over two months, putting an end to fears of a government shutdown this week—for now. On the horizon, Congress faces a potentially bitter battle in December to keep the government open once again, this time with a new speaker of the House and an emboldened group of conservatives in the House.
With that fight looming, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke last week with House Speaker John Boehner and Obama to begin negotiations that will raise the sequestration spending caps over the next two years, McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
The phone call last Thursday marks the first step by Republicans in responding to a months-long filibuster push by Democrats, who refused to take up any spending bills until the majority agreed to raise spending caps on nondefense programs. Republicans had previously agreed to raise the caps only for defense spending—a no-go for Democrats, who worry that such a concession will only lead to deep cuts to the party’s favored programs, including perennial targets like welfare. The defense deal wasn’t much more popular with conservative members, concerned about out-of-control federal spending.