By Molly K. Hooper - 12/15/11 05:13 PM EST
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is “confident” the House will approve a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill to prevent a government shutdown on Friday.
With little more than 24 hours to avert a shutdown, Boehner told reporters that he believes the omnibus will be approved in a bipartisan vote.
“I am confident that the bill will pass in a bipartisan fashion,” Boehner said at Thursday morning news conference.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Thursday that her caucus wouldn’t cooperate with the GOP.
“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.”
But it is possible some centrist Democrats could support the GOP bill.
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) said he and other Blue Dogs are still evaluating the omnibus and have not determined their position.
“You know how we are among the Blue Dogs, we are going to do what we think is right,” Shuler said.
The omnibus has become a bargaining chip in the end-of-year fight over extending the payroll-tax cut. The House has approved legislation extending the tax holiday, but Senate Democrats and the White House have problems with a number of provisions in the House-passed bill.
Democrats worry Republicans will have more leverage in the tax fight if the omnibus is approved by the House.
The GOP measure would fund the government through September 2012. A short-term spending measure keeping the government funded expires Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday signaled in comments on the Senate floor that the two sides are moving closer to an agreement.
“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.
“What we are going to try to do in the next few hours is try to work toward resolving some of the outstanding issues.”
Boehner voiced optimism that he would garner the needed 218 votes on Friday to send either the conference report or a House-bill that includes the “essence of that bill” to the Senate.
GOP conservatives are the problem for Boehner. Many Republicans want the omnibus to include greater reductions in spending than those included in the summer debt-ceiling deal. Spending levels in the omnibus are based on that summer deal, but the original GOP budget set spending levels below those in that agreement.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who wrote the initial GOP budget and voted against a minibus appropriations package last month, said Thursday he was undecided on the omnibus. He said his staff was combing through the bill to see if the numbers conform with the top-line spending level set by the August debt deal of $1.043 trillion.
Ryan acknowledged other members will look to him in deciding how to vote. As a result, his support for the bill would be a coup for GOP leaders.
Ryan said he voted against the earlier minibus because he was unhappy about emergency spending included in the bill and certain changes in mandatory spending programs.
“It is my hope that the conferees can sign the report and we can bring it to the floor of the House,” Boehner said. “If it does not happen, we have taken the essence of that bill, and put it into a House bill and we are prepared to move that if necessary.”
Asked if the House would adjourn if the omnibus is approved, Boehner said that the House would have completed its business.
He noted that he could recall lawmakers should the Senate act on a funding measure or on the other outstanding House-passed legislation to extend the payroll-tax holiday and unemployment benefits.
— Russell Berman, Erik Wasson and Alexander Bolton contributed to this story.