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Policy Riders in Omnibus Draw White House’s Ire

Earnest said Republicans were "whistling past the graveyard of a government shutdown." (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Earnest said Republicans were "whistling past the graveyard of a government shutdown." (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The White House hit congressional Republicans on Wednesday for unveiling a year-end spending bill that includes policy provisions that Democrats vehemently oppose.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said congressional Republicans are “whistling past the graveyard of a government shutdown,” and accused them of trying to load up an omnibus spending bill with poison pill riders. Specifically, he pointed to GOP-crafted policy language on Wall Street regulation and the environment.  

A senior GOP aide, however, shot back that there always have been policy riders included in spending bills.  

In recent years, Republican leaders have had to turn to House Democrats to get enough votes to pass massive spending bills. That’s why Earnest chided Republicans on Wednesday that they cannot pass spending bills solely along party lines. He advised them to “go ask former Speaker John [A.] Boehner how well … that works.”  

Omnibus Policy Riders Draw White House’s Ire

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Lawmakers must send Obama a government-wide funding measure by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 11 or the government will again shut down.  

House Democrats on Wednesday rejected Republicans’ opening offer on the largest outstanding policy and funding sticking points in the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill due to the policy riders, several House Democratic aides familiar with discussions confirmed to Roll Call. A senior Democratic aide said Democrats are preparing a counter offer.  

Meantime, Earnest said White House officials “applaud” lawmakers’ work on a five-year highway funding bill that was unveiled this week. He said, if it passes both chambers, “the president will sign it.” Still, he called it “a step in the right direction,” saying the administration wants lawmakers to fund a slew of other projects.  

Tamar Hallerman, Emma Dumain and Ryan McCrimmon contributed to this report. Related: Obama Would Sign Short-Term Spending Bill to Avoid Shutdown Congress Has a List of Deadlines, Is Checking It Twice See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

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