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Washington Beat: NY Rep. On Panel Tasked With Crafting Budget Deal

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As part of the deal to reopen the government and avoid default, the House and Senate agreed to put members from both chambers in a room to hash out a budget deal by December 13. One of those lawmakers represents New York, and her big priority is eliminating those automatic spending cuts that kicked in earlier this year. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It may be hard to believe, but some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are cautiously optimistic that Republicans and Democrats can reach a budget deal by the middle of December that wards off another government shutdown in January.

"If it were up to me, I'd make a long-term agreement, because it's a terrible way to run government to jump from one crisis to another crisis," said Rep. Nita Lowey, whose district covers Rockland County and parts of Westchester County in New York State.

Lowey is the only New Yorker on a select panel of House and Senate members charged with crafting a budget deal that does the impossible - pleases both Democrats and Republicans.

For Lowey, the perfect deal would end those automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, and raise additional tax revenue.

"I don't think we can choose one or the other. You have to get rid of the sequester. Otherwise, you cannot strengthen the economy," she said. "And closing tax loopholes, in my judgment, is essential."

That could be a tough sell for Republicans, particularly as both sides try to determine how much the government should spend this fiscal year.

At the moment, their plans are $91 billion apart, with House Republicans wanting to spend far less than Senate Democrats.

Long-term, trillions of dollars separate the two sides. During the next 10 years, Democrats want to invest in infrastructure, cut a relatively small amount from the budget and raise taxes on the wealthy. Republicans, on the other hand, want to drastically cut the budget and not raise a dime in taxes.

While tax revenue may be off the table, it is possible, according to some Republicans, that they could agree to eliminate those automatic spending cuts in return for big fixes on entitlement programs.

"If we can get real reforms in mandatory spending, I'm certainly willing to compromise on the sequester levels," said Rep. Michael Grimm, whose district covers Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.

Compromise may be the key as both sides begin negotiating.

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