Senators seek deal to end year

Greg Nash

Senate leaders are trying to schedule votes to pass the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Friday evening.

The possibility of wrapping up the 113th Congress appeared in doubt Friday afternoon, as leaders sought a deal to wrap up a host of outstanding issues, but talks remain underway.

{mosads}Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is working with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to, at the very least, spare senators from having to spend the weekend in the Capitol.

“We’re going to try to work something out so that we may be able to get off tomorrow and Sunday but we’re going to be working here Monday morning unless something comes up in the meantime,” Reid said. 

House Republicans took away the biggest reason to get the omnibus passed by Friday or Saturday by passing a stopgap measure keeping the government funded through Wednesday.

The surprise move gives senators on both sides of the aisle a chance to demand concessions in exchange for scheduling a vote on the omnibus without waiting two days to fulfill procedural requirements.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he would not agree to speed up a vote on the omnibus unless he was promised a vote on amendment addressing President Obama’s executive order easing deportations.

“I’m asking to be able to get a vote,” he said. “A number of us have some amendments that we think would improve the bill and I’m open to various different ideas.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he wanted to force every member of the Senate to take an up-or-down vote on Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Liberals such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) want a vote to strike language in the spending bill that would repeal a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

Delaying the omnibus will likely postpone consideration of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) other priorities, such as President Obama’s nominees and a package extending a variety of expired tax breaks.

Republican senators said Friday they would not yield back time on nominees, which would force Democrats to stay in Washington another week or so to run them through the time-consuming Senate floor process.

But Democrats may force Republicans to share their pain by delaying a vote on the package of tax extenders until the nominees have been confirmed, a Senate Democratic aide said. That might force GOP senators to also stick around for another week.

McConnell said Friday evening that a compromise to finish the Senate’s work for the year was within reach, but Reid balked. 

The Democratic leader said that even if the Senate passes the omnibus Friday night, the Senate would stay in session to confirm executive and judicial branch nominees.

“We’re not finishing tonight,” Reid said.

Senate Democratic aides said the other major legislative agenda item, an extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, now likely won’t happen in the lame-duck session.

The House on Friday passed a five-day measure keeping the government funded through Wednesday, buying more time for the Senate to consider a larger funding bill.

The new stopgap bill was cleared by unanimous consent during a House pro forma session.

The House late Thursday night approved a $1.1 trillion measure that would fund most of the government through September, and the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27. 

— This story was last updated at 6:34 p.m.

Tags Cromnibus Harry Reid Jeff Sessions Mitch McConnell Sherrod Brown Ted Cruz

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