Report: Congress Eyeing $85 Billion Budget Deal To End Sequester Cuts

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (UPI) — Congressional negotiators are working on an $85 billion compromise budget that would end some mandated sequester cuts, The Hill said.

Sources told the Washington political publication leaders of the House-Senate budget conference committee hope to reach agreement on a spending framework over the Thanksgiving break, clearing the way for a vote when Congress reconvenes after the holiday.

Negotiators face a self-imposed Dec. 13 deadline.

Such a deal could avoid the chance of another divisive government shutdown in January and clear the way for consideration of at least a dozen appropriations measures for fiscal year 2014.

However, the two sides reportedly remain about $30 billion apart with Republicans — led by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee — opposed to proposals by Democrats to close tax loopholes to increase revenue. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is the Democrats’ lead negotiator.

Budget negotiators may look at savings at the money-losing U.S. Postal Service — possibly ending Saturday mail delivery, closing facilities and cutting benefits — and from increasing employee contributions to the Federal Employee Retirement System to reduce the deficit.

But major changes in taxes and entitlement program cuts are not on the table so far, the report said.

The administration faces a $65 billion in automatic sequester cuts in the next two years if a budget deal is not reached.

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