The House cleared legislation on Friday to avert a government shutdown hours before a midnight deadline and as top congressional leaders pressed toward closing a deal on a long-term spending bill.
Congress now has until Dec. 16 to either pass a yearlong spending package or another stopgap bill to avoid a shutdown.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill, which passed by voice vote, before midnight. The Senate approved the measure by voice vote before adjourning for the weekend on Thursday.
House GOP aides said Friday that the timing for passage of the larger spending deal, known as an omnibus, was still fluid. The goal is to post the text of the legislation by Monday, but slow negotiations could push that to Tuesday.
It’s also possible the text could be released over the weekend, but aides said that scenario seems less likely.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said negotiators were making “good progress” on the omnibus but that “there are still many moving pieces.”
“At this point, it is unfortunately necessary for us to have a little more time to complete our negotiations,” Rogers said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced the House won’t have its first votes of the week until Tuesday night, an indication that the omnibus will be released later rather than sooner.
Appropriators are waiting on leadership to resolve disagreements over major policy amendments ranging from lifting the crude oil export ban to halting the Syrian refugee program. Once those issues are settled, lawmakers can then iron out the remaining parts of the massive funding package.
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, indicated Thursday
night that the omnibus would be linked to a package renewing expiring tax provisions.
House GOP leaders want to adhere to a self-imposed rule to make legislation public for at least three calendar days before voting on it. Even if the omnibus is released Monday and the House passes it on Wednesday, the Senate may need additional time to consider it.
Unless all senators cooperate to move the omnibus package quickly, the measure could be bogged down in procedural hurdles for as much as a week.
Depending on what policy riders are included in the omnibus, presidential candidates such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) could use the bill as a platform for their campaigns and slow down the process as they have in the past with other legislation.
But with Christmas less than two weeks away by the time Congress returns, leaders are hoping members will be eager to get the legislation done and leave Washington.