Wicker, in coming budget talks, to back defense spending

Sen. Roger Wicker expects to be among the last lawmakers to speak on Wednesday, when he and 28 other members of a House-Senate conference committee will mark their opening day of negotiations on a long-term budget agreement.

The Mississippi Republican said he plans to “wing it” that day and avoid repeating standard political talking points.

“The public expects us to show that we are problem-solvers, and they want a result,” Wicker said. “And I hope that is something we can deliver on in a bipartisan fashion. There is a chance the whole process will become nothing more than theater, with talking points repeated by members of both sides. I think that would be unfortunate.”

Wicker and the other conferees have until Dec. 13 to agree on a budget for fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1. The conferees include all the members of the Senate Budget Committee, such as Wicker, as well as four House Republicans and three House Democrats.

Clarion Ledger