By Erik Wasson
Republican leaders start selling omnibus
House Republican leaders and their caucus allies on Tuesday morning began the process of selling the new $1 trillion compromise spending bill for 2014 to rank-and-file members.
Most members leaving a weekly caucus meeting appeared receptive to the 1,582-page bill that was released late Monday and is coming for a vote on Wednesday, and said they were studying the details.
The bill will come up under a closed rule that forbids amendments.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said support for the bill is far reaching.
“I think it is very broad. The bill covers so many things that are important to our members,” he said. “We held the line on ObamaCare. In fact, it’s been reduced by removing a $1 billion slush fund. It’s funded at sequestrated levels.”
He said the ObamaCare issue, which caused a 16-day government shutdown in October, has been “neutralized,” but he would not predict what the final vote count will be ahead of an afternoon whip check.
“The shutdown educated particularly our younger members, who were not here during the earlier shutdown as I was, about how futile that kind of practice is,” Rogers added. “There is a real hard determination now that we will reacquire and use the power of the purse … which is regular order for appropriations bills.”
Of particular importance to Rogers is a rider in the bill that stops the Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation from enforcing a rule against funding overseas building of coal power plants.
“I’m excited about it,” he said.
The omnibus spending bill fleshes out the $1.012 trillion budget accord forged by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in December.
Ryan told The Hill he will support the bill.
“They did a good job; they kept it clean, and they hit their numbers,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s office in a statement praised a provision in the omnibus that cancels a part of the military pension cut in the Ryan-Murray deal. The provision excepts disabled veterans and family survivors from the cost-of-living increase reduction.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said the bill is very strong on defense, border security and on ObamaCare’s “slush fund."
“Rolling back the government to the last year of President Bush and below the Ryan budget we fought for is a step in the right direction,” he said.
Brady said that he sensed the bill would pass easily in the House.
“For conservatives, this is our first chance in many years to pass an appropriations bill that is more to our priorities than these continuing resolutions, which is the White House’s priorities,” he said.
The omnibus is the first fully detailed appropriations bill before Congress since 2011, and the government has been operating on variations on stopgaps since then.
Some Tea Party conservatives in the conference are expected to vote against the bill because it spends $45 billion more than the budget cap allowed before the Ryan-Murray deal. Sixty-two Republicans voted against that budget compromise.
Other conservatives appeared open to supporting the bill. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said it appeared to be a "reasonable compromise" although he was worried about a lack of funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program. Chaffetz said leaders have sought his vote by assuring him the funding, which goes to local government in districts with large federal landholdings, would be in the stalled farm bill.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a major critic of ObamaCare, said he was pleased in the decrease in the "slush fund" but needed to study the bill further.
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) said he is studying the measure but is sympathetic to it, since it includes a delay in flood insurance premium increases, and new restrictions on the Internal Revenue Service and its ability to target conservative groups.