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Let’s Make an Omnibus Deal

Ryan said the House will vote Thursday on the omnibus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Ryan said the House will vote Thursday on the omnibus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As negotiators released their year-end appropriations package and tax extenders bill late Tuesday, leaders began selling it to their members and preparing for a series of votes Thursday that would bring the 2015 legislative session to a close.  

Congress will also need another short-term continuing resolution to keep the government lights on past Wednesday, which the White House signaled it would sign.  

Republican leaders had been telling their rank and file all day there would be something for everyone. Speaker Paul D. Ryan stuck to his schedule to post the omnibus Tuesday, with a vote to follow on Thursday. At a Politico-sponsored event Tuesday morning, the Wisconsin Republican said he was hopeful the Senate could take it up Thursday as well. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said he expected the chamber to vote Wednesday on a short-term CR.  

Omnibus Slips Past Monday

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Ryan declined to go into specifics about the bill, but said, “Democrats won some, they lost some; we won some, we lost some.”  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Republican Conference would meet Wednesday morning to discuss the year-end legislation and the way forward.  

He said he hoped the Senate would take up the legislation and advance it quickly after House passage Thursday. That would, of course, require significant cooperation. Under the rules, a cloture vote would take place one hour after convening Saturday.  

As the Senate convened, Minority Leader Harry Reid had complained that, “at this pace, we’re going to be here through Christmas.”  

Playing his familiar role of Senate schedule Grinch, Reid said the GOP negotiators need to decide between dropping the removal of a crude oil export ban or accepting offers to pair that language with proposals related to renewable energy.  

“If Republicans think reducing our carbon emissions … is an unacceptable price to pay, we can move the rest of the package without the oil export ban, but we need not delay any more,” Reid said.  

However, that provision survived negotiations, a win for the GOP.  

A provision that would have allowed greater coordination between political parties, a priority for McConnell, didn’t make it into the final omnibus. That was a win for Democrats and some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.  

Another outstanding measure, one that would reauthorize health care spending for 9/11 responders, was added to the omnibus. Supporters, including comedian Jon Stewart, have been pushing Congress hard to take up the reauthorization, which expired earlier this year.  


Meanwhile, the White House signaled President Barack Obama would sign another short-term stopgap spending measure as omnibus talks continue. But, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest warned, there is a point at which Obama would withhold his signature from such a short-term measure.  

“There is,” Earnest said when asked about whether such a date exists, but refusing to pinpoint that date. “Let’s hope we don’t reach it.”  

Emma Dumain and John T. Bennett contributed to this report .


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