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Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill

Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill
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Congressional lawmakers know the $1 trillion omnibus is the last train leaving the station — the final big piece of legislation Congress must pass before the November election.

So members are frantically lobbying leadership and senior appropriators to attach hundreds of their pet priorities to the massive fiscal 2018 spending package.

In the end, very few of those legislative items are likely to hitch a ride on the omnibus. But that’s not deterring lawmakers from pushing their ideas.

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Here are five pitches leadership has heard in recent days. 

Ex-Im Bank  

Retiring Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentRepublican former Michigan governor says he's voting for Biden Biden picks up endorsements from nearly 100 Republicans Bush endorsing Biden? Don't hold your breath MORE (R-Pa.), a powerful senior appropriator, says he’s tucking his Export-Import Bank legislation into the spending bill for the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on state and foreign operations.

Whether leadership allows it to stay there is another question. 

After a months-long lapse, the Ex-Im Bank was reopened in late 2015. But because the bank’s seven-member board lacks a quorum, it hasn’t been able to provide U.S. corporations with loans larger than $10 million. That means more than $30 billion in pending loans remain in limbo, Dent said. 

Dent’s bill would lower the quorum on the board so it could approve large loans once more. He is chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing military construction and Veterans Affairs, but serves on Rep. Hal Roger’s (R-Ky.) sub-panel on state and foreign ops. Rogers is on board, according to Dent. 

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“I put it in the State-Foreign Ops bill to allow the Ex-Im Bank to function without a full quorum,” Dent told The Hill. “They don’t have a quorum and without a quorum, they can’t approve loans of over $10 million.”

Part of the reason there are five vacancies on the bank’s board: The full Senate has yet to confirm four of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE’s nominees who already have been approved by that chamber’s Banking Committee.

Trump’s pick to lead the bank, former Freedom Caucus Rep. Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettBiz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank MORE (R-N.J.), was rejected by the Banking panel in December over his past votes to dissolve the federal agency.

Online sales tax

Rep. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemTrump town hall moderator Guthrie's performance praised, slammed on Twitter South Dakota governor blames surge in COVID-19 cases on more testing US coronavirus numbers rise, raising worries about winter MORE is on a mission. The South Dakota GOP gubernatorial candidate has been aggressively pitching her online sales tax legislation to anyone who will listen.

An ally of leadership who serves on the tax-writing Ways and Means panel, Noem this week tried to convince two powerful conservative groups — the Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee — that her bill should be included in the omnibus.

Noem’s legislation, the Remote Transactions Parity Act, is backed by President Trump and would expand the authority of states to collect sales taxes on internet purchases. She’s pushing Congress to take action before the courts do; the Supreme Court next month will hear a case, South Dakota vs. Wayfair Inc., that could decide whether states can compel out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes. 

One of Noem’s GOP primary candidates in the governor’s race, state Attorney General Marty Jackley, is representing South Dakota in the court case. As the Rapid City Journal explained: “Whichever candidate succeeds first could receive credit for helping to capture millions of dollars in lost revenue for the state and for city governments.” 

Noem is extremely close with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Barrett declines to say if Trump can pardon himself MORE (R-Wis.) and his leadership team, and the provision has been discussed in the Speaker’s office in recent days, sources confirmed. But so far, no final decision has been made.

Noem recently told The Hill she believes Ryan would be "willing” to include the online sales tax provision if she can demonstrate it has broad support. But the Speaker has not publicly stated what riders he would accept in the omnibus. “We are not negotiating the omni through the press,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

“Rep. Noem is working to build on an already broad coalition of support to resolve this issue before the Supreme Court acts, because without legislative guidelines, the expected court decision could cause chaos for small businesses,” said a Noem aide.

“We have been in active talks with the administration and our congressional colleagues about the potential for chaos if the court acts before Congress,” the aide added, “and we are particularly pleased to have the president’s support of a legislative solution.”

FAA short-term extension

Lawmakers from both parties say a short-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a good chance of catching a ride on the omnibus. 

Without congressional action, the FAA will shut down at the end of the month.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Biden owes us an answer on court-packing MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, signaled this week the FAA extension could be included in the spending package.

His House counterpart, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterLobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR MORE (R-Pa.), said leadership has not made a call and things are still uncertain: The extension could be packaged with the bomnibus or come to the floor as a stand-alone measure. But Shuster pointed out that Congress is running out of time.

“We have to do an extension because the FAA will shut down” on March 31, the chairman said.

Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenDemocratic lawmaker calls for stronger focus on trade leverage to raise standards The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden, Harris's first day as running mates MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Transportation panel’s aviation subcommittee, said there is an opportunity for Congress to tie the FAA extension to the omnibus now that Shuster’s plan to privatize the air traffic control system is “dead.”

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The short-term extension “will give us time to sort through a full reauthorization by the end of July,” Larsen told The Hill.

Another House Democrat predicted that both the FAA provision and funding for ObamaCare cost sharing reduction, or CSR, payments would ultimately be included in the final spending package. 

Tribal labor sovereignty

Like Dent, Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide Bottom line MORE (R-Okla.) is a senior appropriator who leads his own Appropriations subcommittee. And he, too, is asking leadership to consider one of his priorities in the omnibus.

The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act would make clear that the National Labor Relations Board has no jurisdiction over businesses owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on tribal land. The legislation — authored by GOP Rep. Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaIndiana attorney general loses reelection bid after groping allegations Bottom Line Lobbying world MORE, who’s running for the Senate in Indiana — would make it harder for labor unions to organize workers at tribal casinos.

The bill already cleared the House earlier this year, but has not been taken up by the Senate.

“Tribal Labor Sovereignty might be able to make it,” said Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on labor. “That would be my priority.”

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Cole, who remained in Washington over the weekend to continue work on the omnibus, said Ryan and other leaders have instructed bipartisan appropriators to hammer out as many issues as possible but to keep them abreast of the more contentious riders.

“We’re keeping them informed — 'here are the issues, what do you want us to fight to the death on?'” Cole said. “But with some of these issues, they literally want them to be kicked up to them.”

One lobbyist familiar with the tribal labor issue said, “this one is getting kicked upstairs” to leadership. “It’s been such a contentious issue and tribes have tried really hard to get it through the Senate ... Leadership in both parties are engaged in this issue.” 

School safety

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Calif.) said the House would soon pass school safety legislation in response to last month’s deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. 

The question is whether Congress will fund that effort in their catchall omnibus bill.

The Students, Teachers and Officers Prevent (STOP) School Violence Act would authorize $50 million a year in new federal grants to help educate students, faculty and law enforcement learn how to spot and report warning signs of potential gun violence. The bill would also develop anonymous telephone and online systems where people could report threats of violence.

But the bill’s author, Rep. John RutherfordJohn Henry RutherfordEd Markey, John Rutherford among victors at charity pumpkin-carving contest 'Mass shooting' at Florida video game tournament: authorities Carter, Yoder advance in appropriations committee leadership reshuffle MORE (R-Fla.), a former Duval County sheriff, has been pressing leadership and appropriators to include funding for his bipartisan bill in the omnibus.

“It’s a very important issue right now,” Rutherford told The Hill earlier this week. “The sooner that we make these funds available for schools ... the better."

The legislation has more than 75 co-sponsors, including Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseJordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins Candymakers meet virtually with lawmakers for annual fly-in, discuss Halloween safety MORE (R-La.), GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Race heats up for top GOP post on powerful Energy and Commerce Committee Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video MORE (R-Wash.), former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzFlorida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Five things to watch at the Democratic National Convention Michelle Obama wishes Barack a happy birthday: 'My favorite guy' MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone back far-right activist Laura Loomer in congressional bid MORE (D-Fla.), whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School  — the site of the mass shooting.

Melanie Zanona contributed.