By Russell Berman - 12/15/11 05:03 PM EST
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Republicans leaders that if they try to pass an omnibus spending bill over the White House’s objections, they would lose Democratic support.
“I hope they have the votes for it, because if they don’t, they won’t be getting any cooperation from us,” Pelosi said Thursday in her weekly press briefing. “This is just ... exacerbating the crisis.”
Funding for the federal agencies covered in the omnibus runs out Friday night, and failure to pass either the large spending bill or a short-term continuing resolution would result in a partial government shutdown. Passing the $1 trillion bill with only Republican votes would be a heavy lift for Boehner, because he has routinely lost dozens of conservatives on key spending votes throughout the year.
Pelosi said a shutdown was “possible” but easily avoidable.
“It’s only a decision that Republicans have to make that they want to avoid a shutdown by coming to the table and coming to their senses about what is fair to get the job done, to get results for the American people, instead of creating a crisis,” she said.
Pelosi held out hope that congressional leaders could work out a deal, and Senate leaders earlier Thursday sounded more optimistic about the prospects for an agreement on the unresolved issues.
Pelosi toed a careful line on the question of exactly what policy objections Democrats have on the omnibus spending bill. Republicans have said the delay by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House is merely a negotiating tactic, and some Democratic House appropriators have acknowledged that the language in the legislation is all but worked out.
“There are a number of objections to the bill, but the more important question is for the White House, because they have the signature,” Pelosi said. “We have made great progress, our negotiators working together to eliminate some of the really horrific suggestions that the Republicans have put forth — stunning, but they couldn't stand the test of daylight, and so they had to back off them.
“But again,” she continued, “our caucus supports the president if he wants to veto the bill because of some of the provisions that are in there. We won’t be voting for a bill that has them.”
Earlier, she denounced the GOP payroll tax bill that passed the House Tuesday on a largely party-line vote. Democrats characterized the vote as a waste of time because the White House had threatened a veto, and Reid had vowed to reject it in the Senate.
“It’s like someone saying to her fiancé: ‘Yes, I’ll finally marry you, but I can only do that on Feb. 30.’ That day is never coming, nor is the day coming when the president will sign the bill that Republicans passed,” Pelosi said.
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) said he and other fiscally conservative Blue Dogs were still evaluating the omnibus and had not determined whether they would support it as a stand-alone bill, despite what Pelosi said.
"You know how we are among the Blue Dogs, we are going to do what we think is right," Shuler said.
— Erik Wasson contributed to this report.
— This post was updated at 12:14 p.m.