Democrats reject initial Republican spending bill

Democrats reject initial Republican spending bill
Citing dozens of "poison-pill" riders, House Democrats have rejected the Republicans' initial year-end government funding bill and plan to respond with their own alternative package.
 
GOP leaders had delivered the sweeping spending proposal to the Democrats on Tuesday evening as Congress scrambles to fund the government and prevent a shutdown ahead of a looming Dec. 11 deadline. 
 
But Democratic leaders said "more than 30" Republican policy amendments, known as riders, made the package unacceptable, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the budget talks.
 
 
Those appropriators are now working on a counter-offer to the GOP bill, the aide said.
 
"We haven’t been talking to the press, we’ve been respectful, we’ve been open, understanding that we have to compromise and the rest — and then all of a sudden, they announce, ‘We’re telling the Democrats time is running out,’" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told fellow Democrats Wednesday morning, according to the senior aide. "Well, we told them to have this done by Nov. 20 — before we left so the staff could work on it the next week into Thanksgiving."
 
The GOP offer followed a roughly 30-minute phone call between Ryan and Pelosi on Tuesday, another source familiar with the negotiations said. During the call, the Speaker urged Pelosi to allow the Appropriations Committee to do its work given that time is running short.
 
And Ryan urged Pelosi to consider the offer put forth by GOP Appropriations Committee negotiators, the source said. 
 
"The proposal was an Appropriations Committee offer, constructed by the Appropriations Committee. The speaker supported it, but he's deferring to Chairman Rogers," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
 
Among the riders rejected by the Democrats are provisions scaling back environmental regulations and undoing parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law of 2010, the aide said. 
 
The Democrats also rejected a Republican amendment to toughen the screening process for refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq. GOP leaders had pushed that bill, sponsored by Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas), through the lower chamber last month as an emergency response to the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. 
 
The bill won the support of 47 House Democrats, but party leaders rejected it as an attempt to end the refugee program altogether, and President Obama has vowed to veto the language if it hits his desk.
 
Trying to avoid a shutdown, which damaged the Republicans in 2013, GOP leaders are eying another anti-terror amendment that could serve as a substitute to the McCaul provision. The alternative proposal is designed to strengthen the current visa-waiver program, making it tougher for some foreigners to visit the United States in the name of national security. 
 
House and Senate Appropriations negotiators from both parties have been passing offers back and forth for the past four weeks on all 12 spending bills. 

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranWhite House requests B for missile defense to counter North Korea Senate narrowly passes 2018 budget, paving way for tax reform Live coverage: The Senate's 2018 budget 'vote-a-rama' MORE (R-Miss.) and ranking member Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiClinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere MORE (D-Md.) stepped in a week and a half ago to begin hammering out the final sticking points, a third source familiar with the talks.

"A lot of the bill is closed out," said the source.

The so-called Big Four decided that Republicans should put together an "initial" final offer on all outstanding issues, which was sent to Democrats Tuesday but quickly rejected.
 
This story was updated at 12:15 p.m.