Washington's Plan: Avoid Repeat—by Aiming Low Shutdown over, new budget talks begin By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Oct 18, 2013 7:23 AM CDT 27 comments Comments Jeff Sessions, Paul Ryan, Patty Murray, and Chris Van Hollen outline their approach to tackling the nation’s debt problems in the Senate Reception Room at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/ Scott Applewhite) (Newser) – Next up in DC: House and Senate Budget Committee leaders have until Dec. 13 to agree upon a budget plan and ensure the whole mess doesn't happen again. Both sides say they're intent on avoiding another shutdown, and the New York Times reports on how they'll do so: by lowering their expectations. That means no "grand bargain." House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan met with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Patty Murray, for breakfast yesterday along with two other budget leaders; in total, there are 29 lawmakers on the budget conference committee, and a series of meetings are planned, the Wall Street Journal reports. But aides didn't sound all that hopeful of finding a budget compromise both parties are happy with. The Democratic budget for the year that began Oct. 1 includes $1.058 trillion in spending; the Republican budget is at $967 billion. The Republican number factors in the next round of automatic sequester cuts, due to hit Jan. 15, the Washington Post reports. But both parties want to avoid those cuts and instead replace them with savings elsewhere. But with expectations lowered, forget a deal on major items like tax revenues or entitlement programs: The main items on the bargaining table are reductions in things like farm subsidies, federal pensions, unemployment insurance, and the USPS, plus small tax-loophole closings.