The Washington Times - December 4, 2013, 09:45AM

The third-ranking Democrat in the House said Wednesday that he won’t be surpassed if congressional budget negotiators miss another self-imposed mid-December deadline for carving out a spending plan — a possibility that could edge the federal government closer to a government shutdown.

Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Republican, said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” that Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, are “very, very close, but far away” from striking a deal.

SEE RELATED: First deadline missed in bipartisan negotiations to avoid shutdown in January

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we will not come together” Mr. Clyburn said of the Dec. 15 deadline budget negotiators set for themselves. But he said that he still believes that lawmakers can reach a deal before the Jan. 15 deadline when current government funding expires.

The Washington Times reported earlier this week that the 29-member committee of House and Senate budget negotiators had not met for three weeks — pushing them passed an informal Dec. 2 deadline that they had originally set for themselves, saying at the time that if they did not have top-line numbers by then that they would struggle to pass the stand-alone spending bills before the mid-January shutdown deadline.

Republicans oppose any tax increases, while Democrats say they won’t allow any major entitlement cuts, leaving little room to bridge the gap between the House GOP budget and Senate Democrats’ blueprint for 2014 spending.

Without agreement on final numbers, the spending committees would be writing their bills to entirely different levels.