House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that the U.S. should spend as much taxpayer money on non-defense programs as it does on the Pentagon, suggesting that their Saturday phone call to address the debt limit also included the finer points of a budget agreement.

In a brief letter to Mnuchin published Saturday, Pelosi said the $22 billion needed over the next two years to implement the VA MISSION Act, which aims to give veterans more health-care options, should be factored into the two-year budget deal the parties are negotiating along with raising the debt limit.

“We all agree on the need to address the debt limit, but we also must reach an agreement on spending priorities based upon the principle of parity as soon as possible,” Pelosi said in the letter, referring to parity between defense and non-defense discretionary spending.

A statement from Pelosi’s office said she will speak with Mnuchin again on Monday. Saturday’s conversation follows several phone calls between the two last week after new revenue projections accelerated the date at which the U.S. risks defaulting on payment obligations.


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