Leaders race to set up votes on trillion-dollar spending bill

 

House and Senate negotiators late Monday were racing to tie up loose ends on a $1 trillion spending bill so lawmakers have enough time to vote on the package and avert a looming government shutdown on Friday. 

A leadership aide told The Hill the cromnibus won't be released Monday night and will instead be unveiled Tuesday. This could complicate the House and Senate's efforts to end the lame-duck session this week. 

ADVERTISEMENT
The House still plans to adjourn Thursday afternoon, a House GOP aide said.  

Democrats are also now preparing for a Tuesday unveiling. 

The delay in the bill’s release will push everything back. The Rules Committee will now likely meet on Wednesday. 

A GOP aide to the Rules panel said it would be possible to mark up the legislation in committee and vote on it the same day in the House, but he suggested leadership would want to give lawmakers more time to review it.  

The delay would then likely lead to a Thursday vote in the House. Lawmakers could then bounce it over to the Senate before the midnight deadline to keep the government open. 

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiGore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Bipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day MORE (D-Md.) told reporters late Monday that the timing of the bill's release is now up to leadership in both chambers.

Mikulski said she and her House counterpart, Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), agreed on 11 of the 12 appropriations bills.

“There are some other items being discussed between Boehner, Reid, McConnell and Pelosi,” Mikulski said. “When those are resolved, we’ll file the bill and be ready to go.”

Mikulski suggested policy riders aren't the issues holding up the bill. She also didn't rule out a short-term continuing resolution (CR) for a few days to make way for the main package.

“Let's see what they can get done tonight, but we're ready to roll,” she said. “I believe that we will not have a shutdown.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), an appropriator, said Monday afternoon there are three or four items that are still being ironed out in the spending package, including a reauthorization to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which is set to expire at the end of the year. 

It allows the federal government to act as a backstop for businesses in case of a terrorist attack. Congress created TRIA following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been keeping a tight lid on any details, and one aide said Durbin’s remarks were “incorrect.”

The package is expected to encompass 11 appropriations bills that cover most of the government for the rest of fiscal 2015 and one continuing resolution (CR) that funds the Department of Homeland Security for only a couple of months.

The Democratic caucus is scheduled to meet at noon on Tuesday and the GOP conference, which normally meets Tuesday mornings, is now expected to huddle early Wednesday. 

If the House and Senate can’t pass the main package before the deadline Thursday night, lawmakers might have to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for a few days before holding votes on the main package. That’s exactly what Congress had to do last January before lawmakers passed the omnibus package that funded the government through September.  

Scott Wong, Bernie Becker and Mike Lillis contributed.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. and 10:24 p.m.