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Reid Hopes for Quick ‘Cromnibus’ Passage, Getaway

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Now, it’s the Senate’s turn to tackle the catchall “cromnibus” spending bill before departure.  

The measure sits in line behind the annual defense authorization, which is set to pass mid-afternoon. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the compromise spending measure — which includes 11 of the 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2015, as well as a short-term continuing resolution.  

“There are senators who are unhappy with this legislation, and they’ll have their chance to make their objections heard,” Reid said. “I hope we can complete work on this bill as soon as we complete the defense bill, but that depends on everyone’s cooperation here.”  

Absent a consent agreement, Reid could not even call the bill up and move to limit debate until after finishing the defense bill, and in that case a cloture vote would take place under the rules on Sunday, explaining why there needs to be some traditional end-of-the-year Senate magic. But any individual senator could gum up the works.  

“There isn’t a lot of time. Government funding runs out at 12 o’clock midnight on Saturday,” Reid said. That’s when the two-day continuing resolution that President Barack Obama signed early Friday morning is set to expire.  

Unlike House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who blasted the bipartisan agreement , Reid talked up the legislation’s benefits for Democrats, kicking off with secure funding for Obamacare.  

“The bill achieves many of our important priorities: It gives the Affordable Care Act the secure financial footing that it deserves. It gives our military the tools it needs to combat ISIS, addresses the rape kit backlog … increases funding for student loans, ensures that the president’s executive action protecting families can move forward, and it provides funding to fight the Ebola epidemic,” Reid said.  

Of course, that doesn’t mean Reid agrees with all of the provisions, such as the contentious language rolling back the swaps-pushout rule provision of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., led an ill-fated push to get the provision stricken from the spending bill.  

“There are things in this bill that I wouldn’t have included, Democrats wouldn’t have included, had we written the bill alone,” Reid said. “I don’t support the weakening of Dodd-Frank and the restrictions on the District of Columbia, and other things. But I didn’t write this bill. Senate Democrats didn’t write this bill alone. It’s a compromise. That’s what legislation’s all about.”  

As for another provision that’s attracted controversy, Senate Democratic aides said that Democrats were faced with the prospect of having no limits at all on campaign fundraising by party committees in the future if they did not concede to the significantly increased caps in the cromnibus package.  

“They said we can work it out now, or we can just wait until next year,” when Democrats would have less leverage during negotiations taking place with a GOP-led Senate.  

That’s what would happen in the event of a cromnibus defeat, with the alternative appearing to be a three-month CR.  

Funding the government is not the end of the Senate’s work. Senators still need to address a one-year retroactive extension of tax breaks known collectively as extenders and some nominations that are high priorities for Reid, who will cede the title of majority leader to Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky next year. There’s also a slew of legislation that’s already passed the House waiting to be cleared, a long list that includes a reauthorization of terrorism risk insurance.  

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

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