Leaders lose out on pet provisions

Leaders lose out on pet provisions

Congressional leaders scored a big win this week by reaching a sweeping tax and spending deal, but they came up short on several policy riders that were near and dear to their hearts.
 
The top leaders of both chambers had to jettison pet issues as the clock on negotiations ran out. They didn’t want to imperil a broader deal freezing two key ObamaCare taxes and making permanent key pieces of the 2009 stimulus.
 
Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (Nev.), for instance, failed to win inclusion of a rider amending a Depression-era bankruptcy law, the Trust Indenture Act.
 
He pushed the language to help Caesars Entertainment Corporation avoid bankruptcy by allowing it to restructure the debt of a subsidiary. That restructuring was imperiled in June by a decision handed down by a federal judge for the Southern District of New York.
 
If Caesars goes out of business, it could cost between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs in Nevada.
 
The rider stirred the ire of liberal Democrats, who worried that it might also bail out Education Management Corporation, one of the nation’s largest operators of for-profit colleges, which Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenScaramucci deletes old tweets bashing Trump Trump's new communications chief once called him a 'hack' OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? MORE (D-Mass.) has criticized for “scam recruiting practices.”
 
But the rider fell out of the omnibus spending bill because Republicans were demanding too high a price from Reid to put it in, according to a source familiar with the talks.
 
As the provision became publicly associated with Reid in the media, Republicans floated trading the measure for language reversing the National Labor Relations Board joint-employer ruling. The agency determined in August that companies could be held responsible for labor violations committed by contractors.
 
“The price tag was a mismatch,” said a person familiar with the talks.
 
A senior Democratic aide said Republicans also wanted concessions on riders loosening campaign finance rules and delaying a Department of Labor rule on conflict-of-interest standards for investment advisers.  
 
Instead, Reid helped Caesars and the MGM Grand, another major employer based in Nevada, by blocking language from the omnibus that would have prevented them from forming real estate investment trusts, according to a Senate aide familiar with the negotiations.  
 
Marblegate Asset Management, the plaintiff in a creditors’ suit against Education Management Corporation, cheered the outcome.
 
"We applaud Congress's decision not to amend the Trust Indenture Act via a rider to the federal omnibus bill, which would have overturned an investor protection law that is critical to a properly functioning U.S. bond market and the millions of Americans who invest in it," said Andrew Milgram, managing partner at the firm.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails Parliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | How Democrats stole the nation's lower federal courts MORE (R-Ky.), meanwhile, was rebuffed in his attempt to add a rider scrapping the limits on coordinating spending between parties and candidates.
 
McConnell and other GOP leaders want to reverse their party’s steady decline of influence in primary and general elections since the passage of 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

One way to combat the rising influence of super-PACs controlled by wealthy donors is to give the party committees, such as the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, more leeway to coordinate spending.
 
The rider, however, drew opposition from Democrats and conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, who worried that it would give party leaders more ammo to defeat troublemaking conservatives in primaries.
 
Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP divided over care for transgender troops Want bipartisan health reform? Make the debate honest again Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis MORE (R-Wis.) made a strong — yet unsuccessful — push to include the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in the deal.
 
It would have closed loophole in federal laws protecting the rights of individuals and groups to conscientiously object to abortion.


Conservatives are pushing it to address California’s requirement that health plans under the jurisdiction of its Department of Managed Health Care cover elective abortions. Critics say it would affect the health plans of religious organizations.
 
Ryan spoke to President Obama and Vice President Biden to make his case but came away empty-handed.
 
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) missed out on a provision allowing debt-plagued Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. She pressed the issue on behalf of Democratic Reps. Jose Serrano and Nydia Velasquez, both of New York, who have large constituencies of Puerto Rican heritage.  
 
“We’re concerned about the ignoring of the urgency of the situation in Puerto Rico,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday. “It won’t cost the American people one thin dime to enable, to allow Puerto Rico to restructure their debt and declare bankruptcy.”
 
She has asked Ryan to make a public commitment to restructure the island’s debt by the end of March.