The 29 members of the budget conference committee are formally set to hold their first meeting next Wednesday, with the panel facing a deadline of Dec. 13 for coming up with a report of recommendations for the full House and Senate.
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as well as all other members of the panel, will have an opportunity to give opening statements.
This initial meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in a room on the House side of the Capitol and is open to the press and public. It also will be televised.
The committee will seek to find compromises between the widely divergent versions of a spending plan for fiscal 2014 that have been passed by the two chambers. Any reconciliation would have to be approved by both chambers.
The federal government is being funded now under the temporary spending language approved last week to end the government shutdown. That expires Jan. 15, and some new funding mechanism for agencies will be needed by then. Whether that will be a longer-term plan, or whether another stopgap bill will be needed, could depend on the success of this budget conference committee in finding some compromises.
A planning session was being held by some committee members and staffers Wednesday night. Whether all of the committee's deliberations and meetings will be public remains uncertain.
This article appears in the October 24, 2013 edition of NJ Daily.