Schumer: Use Senate highway money in budget deal

Greg Nash

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFormer Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) acknowledged Thursday that Democrats would be interested in using provisions in a Senate highway funding bill to bust current spending caps. 

“We thought some of those pay-fors could have been used for the budget,” Schumer, the likely next Democratic leader in the Senate, told reporters.

ADVERTISEMENT
But he also acknowledged that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCongress fails on promises to restore regular order and stop funding by crisis Overnight Healthcare: Dems dig in over Zika funding Business groups ramp up pressure to fill Ex-Im board MORE (R-Ky.), who pushed a highway bill through the chamber this summer, has so far been dead-set against that idea. “The No. 1 person who’s opposed to that is Sen. McConnell,” Schumer said.

The New York Democrat’s comments come as Congress has less than two weeks to extend government funding. GOP leaders, who control both chambers, are looking for a way to target Planned Parenthood over the recent pro-life videos documenting the healthcare provider's fetal tissue donation programs, while avoiding a second government shutdown in two years. Some House conservatives have been pushing to defund Planned Parenthood in a government funding measure. 

But as McConnell acknowledged this week, Republicans and Democrats will also likely need to hold broader spending negotiations this year. President Obama has said he would veto any longer-term spending measure that follows the spending caps implemented in the 2011 debt limit deal, and congressional Democrats have said they want any funding increases to be evenly split between domestic priorities and defense.

The Senate highway bill included around $47 billion in offsets that would provide around three years of funding for the nation’s infrastructure, including provisions to sell oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and to reduce Federal Reserve payments to some banks.

Republicans have said for months that they thought that Schumer and Democrats would seek to use the highway money to offset extra spending. Schumer, some of his fellow Democrats and even House Republicans instead want to use a revamp of international tax rules to pay for a full six-year highway bill.

Schumer made his comments at a news conference in which Democrats urged Republicans to agree to roll back the so-called carried interest provision, which allows private equity and venture capitalist executives to use the lower capital gains tax rate.

Leading GOP presidential candidates, like businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump meets with Gov. Mike Pence amid VP speculation Dem immigration platform courts Hispanics Dem platform draft adopts Sanders proposal on taxing foreign earnings MORE and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have proposed getting rid of the preferential treatment for carried interest. But top Republicans on Capitol Hill have shown no interest in including carried interest in a potential budget deal.

“Washington is a hard place to get people to come together to agree on something. We agree on this. So take yes for an answer and make it happen,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenVeep auditions in overdrive Apple, Spotify streaming music dispute heats up Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans MORE (D-Mass.) said to Republicans at the news conference.