Spending deal talks down to toughest issues, lawmakers say

Spending deal talks down to toughest issues, lawmakers say
© Greg Nash

House Republicans are hoping to finalize an enormous 2018 spending package before midnight on Monday, but the path to a bipartisan deal remains hindered by a handful of tough issues still to be ironed out, according to numerous sources familiar with the talks.

“The effort is to finalize it this evening,” Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House Rules Committee, said Monday afternoon as he left a GOP leadership meeting in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE’s (R-Wis.) Capitol office. 

“The plan at this point is to then post it. But it hasn’t happened yet, and we’re not promising it’s going to happen.”


Sessions said there are “five or six” issues — “not 12” — that are holding up an agreement. He mentioned three issues by name: abortion restrictions; border security funding; and the Gateway rail project, a rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River that’s been championed by bipartisan lawmakers from New York and New Jersey.

“You know, you generally save the things that are hardest to last,” Sessions said. “You try to undo as many knots as you can, and that is where those final negotiations are going on right now.” 

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsMeadows says Trump World looking to 'move forward in a real way' Trump takes two punches from GOP Watchdog urges Justice to probe Trump, Meadows for attempting to 'weaponize' DOJ MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, on Monday also singled out the Gateway funding as a continued barrier to a deal.

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE has threatened to veto the omnibus package if it includes the Gateway project. A failure of Congress to pass a spending bill will lead to a partial government shutdown at the end of Friday, when current funding expires.

Asked if Congress will avoid a shutdown, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi Capitol Police asked to arrest the maskless MORE (R-Calif.) smiled confidently and nodded his head. 

A spokesman for Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (N.Y.), senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the sticking points are related to border security and the Gateway project, but negotiators remain hopeful that a bill would be introduced Monday.

The GOP leadership meeting came shortly before the entire Republican conference will huddle in the Capitol basement, where appropriators will brief the other lawmakers on the negotiations. 

House GOP leaders had hoped to introduce the omnibus bill on Monday, setting the stage for a vote on Wednesday. A delay in the release would likely push the vote further into the week, leaving the Senate with less time to move the package through the  upper chamber.  

The week’s calendar is also being complicated by the threat of severe weather, which is expected to hit the Washington region Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Friday funeral of the late Rep. Louise SlaughterDorothy (Louise) Louise SlaughterDemocrats must go on the offensive against voter suppression House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Sotomayor, Angela Davis formally inducted into National Women's Hall of Fame MORE (D-N.Y.), who died last week. 

Melanie Zanona and Scott Wong contributed.