Reid changes tune, signals deal close on $1T omnibus

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested Thursday that the Senate could move forward with a $1 trillion omnibus spending package soon. 

"I just had a very comfortable conversation with [Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel] Inouye [D-Hawaii],” Reid said. “[T]he issues that relate to the omnibus, I think, according to Sen. Inouye — those are resolvable. There are a few issues that are outstanding, but they are really small in number.

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"What we are going to try to do in the next few hours is try to work toward resolving some of the outstanding issues.  

"I think what we should do is the conference report, and I think that's the direction we are headed today." 

He also said he was working with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on payroll taxes to come up with something that would "get out us out of here at a reasonable time in the next few days."

Reid's position is a change from Wednesday morning, when he rebuffed his Republican counterpart's calls to bring the omnibus to the floor, arguing there were deep and serious flaws in the package.

Thursday's floor comments follow the House GOP's decision to release the conference report late Wednesday night, which sets up a possible Friday vote in the House. 

The omnibus has become a bargaining chip in a separate fight over extending the payroll tax cut holiday that is President Obama's top year-end priority. 

If the omnibus is approved by the House, it could give Republicans more leverage in the fight over taxes. Neither side wants to get blamed for not extending the payroll holiday; workers would see their checks go down in January if the tax cut is not extended. 

Reid said it would be a "mistake" for Republicans to pass their own spending package and then leave Washington.

"I think that would be a mistake," he said, referencing the House Republicans' spending plan. “I think we should do the conference report, and that’s where we are headed today."  

McConnell hinted that some resolution on the omnibus and the outstanding payroll tax cut extension bill issue could be on the horizon. 

"We are confident and optimistic we will be able to resolve both on a bipartisan basis," said McConnell.

Reid also said that the Senate would most likely hold a vote on the conference report for the Department of Defense authorization bill at some point on Thursday.

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