Democrats still holding out hope for omnibus spending bill

The deck is stacked against that option because of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who announced last week that he opposes moving an omnibus in the lame-duck session.

“The odds of a CR right now are high” given McConnell’s opposition, said Sam Rosen-Amy of OMB Watch.

Still, the Senate appropriations aide said the omnibus and a year-long continuing resolution that would keep the government operating through Oct. 1, 2011, remain the two options on the table.

Inouye has been working on an omnibus spending package with discretionary spending set at levels $20 billion lower than President Obama requested for the 2011 fiscal year. The bill would increase non-defense discretionary spending by 0.7 percent and defense spending by 1.5 percent, an aide said.

In contrast, the continuing resolution would keep spending levels at their current mark.

Some senators might favor the omnibus because it includes billions in earmarks that would not appear in a continuing resolution.

House and Senate Republicans have backed a moratorium on earmarks for the next Congress and President Obama has called for earmark reforms. That leaves an omnibus moving through the lame-duck Congress as the best vehicle for the earmarks.

The Senate appropriations aide said there are no plans to formulate an omnibus without earmarks to ease its passage through the Senate.

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