Is a budget deal finally within reach?

Congressional leaders say they're close, but one can't be blamed for being skeptical

Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell chat
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says a spending deal has never been closer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he's optimistic. So why does news of a potential budget bargain between Republicans and Democrats seem too good to be true?

To reverse an old proverb, skepticism in this case is the triumph of experience over hope. In recent months, the battle to keep cash flowing to federal agencies for the fiscal 2018 budget cycle has produced a shutdown, a series of continuing resolutions, and at times a focus on everything but the budget. Until the last couple of days, it appeared that leaders in Congress had almost no interest in finally closing the books on a budget that is now four months overdue.

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