Deal on hardest part of omnibus emerging

Negotiators are making progress on the toughest part of the $1 trillion spending bill needed to keep the government open after next week.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill is the most problematic of the 12 annual appropriations bills and has proved so again this year as appropriators try to craft an all-inclusive omnibus package.

The bill contains funding for top GOP targets like ObamaCare, the National Labor Relations Board, and President Obama's education initiatives. An ObamaCare funding fight shut down the government for 16 days when the current fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

A stopgap spending bill in effect through next Wednesday passed after the GOP dropped its insistence that ObamaCare be defunded.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who chairs the Appropriations labor and health subcommittee said that both sides were close to releasing a draft of his panel's piece of the omnibus Friday. 

"We're close ... as of last night it's not what I would like and it's probably not what they would like either," Harkin said. "We're just working out language ... by tomorrow we'll have a draft out I hope."

"My bill is always the toughest," he said. "It's got the healthcare in it." 

Harkin predicted that the House and Senate could still pass the omnibus by next week.

"I think both chambers could pass it expeditiously," he said. 

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Harkin's negotiating partner, was tight-lipped when pressed on the status of the health and labor bill.

"We are working hard," he said, adding that he is pressing for "good government" policy riders in the bill. 

Kingston is running for the Georgia Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and faces a primary race against Tea Party conservative Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.).