While lawmakers work out a spending bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, the Senate and House are also considering long-term plans to map out the federal budget over the next 10 years. Republicans and Democrats have sparred over what that long-term budget should look like. One local Democratic lawmaker is defending his party's commitment to balancing the budget in years to come. David Hawkings, columnist at Hawkings Here for CQ Roll Call, talks about the latest details.
On Rep Chris Van Hollen's proposed alternative budget that he discussed on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday: "What Chris Van Hollen said was that it would balance by 2040, which is obviously a long way away... but in the short-term, it would reduce in the next decade... we're expecting something similar to what the Senate Democrats are proposing, and what they'll actually get to vote on this week, which is about $2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, which is about one-third of what Paul Ryan, the Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee, is going to get the House to pass this week."
On whether the plan looks like it may be a real budget or if it's more political posturing: "This is all about political posturing. Paul Ryan went on the Sunday shows yesterday, and referred to his own budget as a vision document, which is pretty much the perfect description for all of these budgets, not just his, but Van Hollen's and what's going on in the Senate. These are opportunities for the parties to try and figure out for itself what they can rally behind."
On the latest regarding plans to avoid a government shutdown: "The Congress is less close to getting this done than Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the Senate Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, had hoped to be. She hoped to get the bill done by the end of last week, so this week could be spent negotiating a final deal.