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Senate Clinches Deal to Finish Omnibus on Friday

Rubio had hinted at a slow down of the omnibus, but it won't take place. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rubio had hinted at a slow down of the omnibus, but it won't take place. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No level of consternation about the big omnibus spending and budget deal will interfere with this year’s Christmas getaway.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced an agreement that will allow the Senate to quickly call up and pass the combined measure after the House finishes work Friday — without a weekend session.  

The timing of the deal was curious, as shortly before, Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was discussing prospects of creating a delay during a Fox News interview from the campaign trail.  

“I think if we can add some days to it, the way Sen. Sessions is talking about and maybe some others, that process of slowing it down allows more Americans to wake up to the reality of what’s in the bill, and perhaps as a result demand that their elected representatives do something to make those changes on things like the Syrian refugees,” Rubio said.  

Pelosi Won’t Guarantee Democrat Votes on Omnibus

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But while Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, has been among the deal’s most vociferous critics, there was nothing afoot to force a vote to break a filibuster to take place on Sunday.

“I think he probably picked something out in the paper where I kept my options open,” Sessions told Roll Call when asked about Rubio’s comments.

Sessions was not aware an agreement had been made to lock in votes on the omnibus and tax package on Friday. “I had made no plans to object, but in my own mind I hadn’t said I would not,” he said when informed of the agreement. “If something came up I might change my mind.”

Sessions said he strongly objected to the year-end package, particularly to an increase in non-defense spending levels. He also criticized the process and said, “We need to return to bringing bills up, and bringing them on the floor, and having amendments offered on the floor and voted on by congressional members, and not decided in secret by special interest groups.”

“This bill explains why Republican and Democratic voters are in open rebellion … they elect people that they believe are going to take action to protect their security, their jobs, their wages and what do they get? A bill that is worse than current law, goes in the opposite direction,” Sessions said in speaking against the omnibus Wednesday. “No wonder people are upset. This legislation represents a further disenfranchisement of the American voter.”  

The Senate generally clears requests for unanimous consent like the one McConnell made Thursday to set up Friday’s expedited vote sequence through a hotline process. That allows any Senate office to contact their respective party cloakroom and notice their intent to object, even if the senators involved are away from the floor.  

A senior GOP aide confirmed that the deal for the omnibus votes went through the customary process, meaning all senators decided against taking the procedural steps Rubio was alluding to on Fox News.  

“I know enough to say that we’re going to oppose it, and I know enough to say that we should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things that we’ve been discussing,” Rubio said. “What you can do, ultimately, is slow them down and make them take more days in order to pass it.”  

Under the agreement, procedural votes will still happen, but they will be lined up to take place ahead of passage on Friday, meaning the smell of jet fumes, and the interest of a weekend on the campaign trail, will win again.  

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.


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