- The Washington Times - Monday, October 26, 2015

The new budget deal shaping up on Capitol Hill is already drawing fierce fire from both ends of the political spectrum, with one conservative group calling it “manure.”

White House and congressional negotiators were working to try to finalize the agreement, which could settle most of the major spending issues facing Washington for the next year and a half — but which would require a tough vote for all sides.

“Negotiations are ongoing, but I hope that Democrats and Republicans will come to a resolution soon that is good for our country,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said as the chamber opened for business Monday afternoon.

Among the big decisions are how much to increase the federal government’s borrowing limit, how much new spending to allow this year and next year, and what other programs could be cut to free up more money.

The deal marks outgoing House Speaker John A. Boehner’s last chance to try to win cuts to entitlement spending. Mr. Boehner had promised to try to “clean the barn” of thorny issues so his successor could have smoother sailing.

But some of the tradeoffs he’s pondering are angering activists.

“In Washington cleaning the barn is apparently synonymous with shoveling manure on the American people,” said Michael A. Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, the campaign arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “John Boehner is clearly a rogue agent negotiating on behalf of well-connected special interests, not the voters that gave him the gavel.”

Liberal groups were just as worried that their leaders would accept a bad deal.

“The White House needs to know that any budget deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits or eligibility for those benefits is unacceptable to the American people and roughly equivalent to declaring a holy war on struggling working families near the kick-off of the 2016 election,” Jim Dean, chairman of liberal pressure group Democracy for America, said.

Congress is rushing an early-November deadline for raising the debt limit.

The Obama administration has been borrowing from internal government accounts for months, but said it will run out of wiggle room next week. The Congressional Budget Office on Monday confirmed that timeline.

Meanwhile, funding for fiscal year 2016 only runs into December, under a stopgap measure Congress approved last month.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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