Virginia will have a big role in hammering out budget differences on Capitol Hill. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are on the 29-member conference committee, which will meet for the first time Wednesday.
The committee is a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate who have until mid-December to come up with a deal to fund the government past January.
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, both Warner and Kaine expressed optimism and realism. They said their experience working to pass bipartisan budgets as governor gives them a unique jumping-off point in the negotiations.
Warner says both sides will need to give on things like revenues and entitlement reform. Meanwhile, Kaine says it's right for people to be skeptical.
“I think we have a good opportunity as the two Virginians on the panel to talk about the sharp effects that our businesses have seen, that our federal employees have seen,” said Kaine.
“Both as former governors, we understand that you gotta work with folks, even if you don't agree with them all the time,” said Warner.
No immediate problems will arise if the committee does not reach a deal by its December 13 deadline, but without a conference committee agreement, we could be knocking on the door of another federal shutdown by mid-January.
The deal passed to end the shutdown earlier this month will only fund the government through January 15.