House moves toward passing $1.1T funding bill

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A $1.1 trillion spending bill looks like it will have the votes to pass the House on Thursday despite griping by members of both parties.

Democrats and Republicans alike have raised doubts about whether Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (Ohio) and other GOP leaders can cobble together the votes necessary to win approval for their package, which would keep the government open beyond Thursday, when funding expires.

But there were a number of signs Wednesday that suggested the House GOP package would ultimately prove successful.

While President Obama hasn’t publicly endorsed the legislation — something that would likely cause more Republicans to vote against it — the White House on Wednesday touted a number of the bill’s provisions.

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The White House hailed “substantial resources” included for the fight against Islamic terrorists and “significant” spending on the Ebola epidemic as victories.

“We are certainly pleased by that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Just as important, the White House dismissed blows to first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaMichelle responds to Barack with her own Valentine's tweet Obamas' former Harvard law professor: Michelle should have been president Obamas sign with agency for speaking gigs MORE’s healthy school lunch program as unimportant and argued deeper cuts had been avoided.

GOP leaders are confident they’ll have the votes to pass the package, with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) predicting that “a majority on both sides” will usher the package through the lower chamber. 

Still, even GOP leaders expect between 50 and 60 Republicans to vote against the bill, largely because of Obama’s executive actions deferring deportations and providing work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.

And Republicans are feeling pressure from the right.

The conservative Drudge Report website ripped Republicans over the measure, arguing it represented “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and that it also fully funded ObamaCare. “Republican Betrayal” was its top headline.

That means Republicans will need to win over Democrats, and liberals on Wednesday were revolting over a pair of eleventh-hour GOP amendments, one that would undo parts of Democrats’ 2010 Wall Street reform law and another to loosen campaign finance regulations. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a wild card in the debate, criticized both measures but pointedly did not say she would oppose the bill.

“Our members are just very, very concerned about it,” she said.

If she signals to her members that they are free to support the bill, it will surely pass. And Pelosi generally sides with the White House.

Despite all the various pressures and moving parts, some Democrats said there will be plenty of party support to get the package over the finish line.

“I suspect a number of Democrats will be voting ‘no,’ ” said Rep. Jim MoranJim MoranFormer reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia GOP Rep. Comstock holds on to Virginia House seat 10 races Democrats must win to take the House MORE (D-Va.), a veteran appropriator who is supporting the measure. “But it’ll pass. We’ll be out of here Thursday afternoon.

“I think the leadership understands let’s not mess with this because if you pull one string out, the whole thing will begin to unravel,” Moran added. “I think it’s a set package at this point.”

Liberal Democrats, for their part, aired their complaints during a closed-door meeting of the caucus in the Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Leaving that gathering, several members of leadership — including Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHispanics are split in DNC race Becerra launches 2018 bid for full term as California AG The green movement must continue in Trump era MORE (D-Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) — indicated that they’ll oppose the proposal unless it’s amended, though Clyburn later walked back his comments.

At a House Rules Committee meeting Wednesday, Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the panel, offered an amendment to eliminate both controversial riders that failed in a party-line vote.

Rules panel members did attach a bipartisan proposal — sponsored by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), heads of the House Education and the Workforce Committee — designed to shore up the ailing Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation by allowing beneficiaries of struggling plans to cut payments for the sake of preserving the underlying fund.

But liberals have also panned that proposal, fueling questions about how many Democrats will back the bill on Thursday.

Unveiled late Tuesday, the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” — a combination of an omnibus spending bill and a continuing resolution — would fund most of the government through September 2015, but it provides money for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only through Feb. 27. The shorter leash on the DHS is designed to give Republicans an opportunity early next year to shape policy for the agency overseeing Obama’s immigration order.

Conservative critics have rejected their leadership’s cromnibus approach, saying they don’t want to fund a program they deem unconstitutional for even a day longer.

“To provide funding for something that I believe is unconstitutional is a violation of my oath,” Rep. Matt SalmonMatt SalmonWestern Republicans seek new federal appeals court Arts groups gear up for fight over NEA What gun groups want from Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) said. 

“I don’t feel comfortable with the way this has all played out. … In a couple of weeks, we’ll all raise our hand and swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. And I believe this is an abdication to that commitment.”