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Congressional leaders expect funding deal to be unveiled Monday

Greg Nash

Congressional leaders expect the legislative text of a year-end omnibus spending bill to be released Monday, and they say it will likely be linked to a major deal on taxes.

“I understand the current projection is for the House to post the omnibus Monday and vote on it by Wednesday,” Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) told reporters. “The goal is to wrap things up by Wednesday evening.”

{mosads}He said the omnibus would be linked to a package extending expiring tax provisions. Senate negotiators say that package is likely to make several important tax breaks open-ended and place a moratorium on two ObamaCare taxes.

“They seem to be linked, although I can’t tell you whether it will be one vote or two votes, but clearly they’re part of the overall negotiations,” he added.

But Cornyn cautioned “there are a few outstanding issues that have not been resolved.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is involved in the talks, said, “sooner or later we come against the wall of having to act, and I think when that happens hopefully when that happens we can get this done. … I think it’s a matter of days.” 

Cornyn’s statement mirrored a prediction made the day before by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers’s (R-Ky.), who said the text of the omnibus would be unveiled Monday to set up a vote Wednesday and meet Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) pledge to observe the three-day waiting period for major bills.

Earlier in the day, the Senate approved a stopgap bill extending government funding until Dec. 16.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, said negotiators are making progress on whittling down policy amendments.

“We were down to 42,” she said. “I think we could squeeze it to 35.”

The emerging timeline would give Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) less than a day to overcome the upper chamber’s procedural hurdles and hold a final vote. 

Senate leaders, however, are confident they’ll get their colleagues to sign off because many are eager to return home for the holidays.

McConnell on Wednesday morning hailed this congressional session as one of the most productive “in a long time.”

And the chamber’s presidential candidates, notably Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), don’t want to spend too much time away from battleground states.

“I think the effort is going to [be] to try to finish middle of next week,” Hatch said. Asked if the Wednesday deadline gives the Senate enough time to get through its procedural hurdles, he said, “I think so. We may be dumb, but we’re not as dumb as people think.” 

Senate sources on Thursday said the chances of reaching a deal on a major tax deal were greater than 50 percent.

They say it would eliminate expiration dates for the research and development tax credit and the Section 179 small-business expensing deduction, as well as core tax breaks from President Obama’s 2009 fiscal stimulus plan. Those are the expansions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit and the American opportunity tax credit for college expenses.

Senate sources say the deal will also likely include a two-year moratorium of ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax” on expensive insurance plans and the medical device tax. 

Jordain Carney contributed. 

Tags Barbara Mikulski John Cornyn Marco Rubio Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch Paul Ryan Ted Cruz

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