By JONATHAN WEISMAN
Published: December 5, 2013

WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators on Thursday closed in on a budget deal that, while modest in scope, could break the cycle of fiscal crises and brinkmanship that has hampered the economic recovery and driven public opinion of Congress to an all-time low.

But the leaders of the House and Senate budget committees — Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington — encountered last-minute resistance from House Democratic leaders who said any deal should be accompanied by an extension of expiring unemployment benefits for 1.3 million workers.

“This isn’t interparty bickering,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader. “This is a major policy disagreement.”

It was not clear on Thursday how serious a threat the demand posed to a deal largely worked out by Mr. Ryan and Ms. Murray alone. With conservative Republicans in the House likely to balk, Democratic votes will be needed to pass an agreement, and Democrats have not said whether they will make their support contingent on an extension of benefits.

Democrats were confident that if they held their ground, Republicans would agree next week to extend unemployment compensation — and Speaker John A. Boehner left open that possibility.

“If the president has a plan for extending unemployment, I’ll take a look at it,” he said.

The deal would increase revenue by raising some fees and would shift some cuts away from domestic and defense programs, partly alleviating the squeeze of across-the-board spending cuts imposed last year, which are set to worsen in 2014. Spending on defense and domestic programs would rise to about $1 trillion for the current fiscal year from $986 billion, the fiscal 2013 level that remains in effect under the continuing resolution passed in October. Absent a deal, further cuts would go into effect in January, and discretionary spending would be cut to $967 billion for fiscal 2014.

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