Nominees holding up deal

Nominees holding up deal
© Getty Images

Senate leaders are within striking distance of a deal to fund the government, extend expired tax cuts and wrap up the 113th Congress but a dispute over President Obama’s nominees remains a sticking point.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility California governor predicts 'xenophobic' GOP will likely be third party in 15 years This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request MORE (R-Ky.) announced Friday evening that GOP senators are poised to agree to pass a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill and a package extending expired tax cuts.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re very close to being cleared on this side to finish up and I want everybody to understand that it’s possible to finish tonight and very shortly we’ll be able to announce that there are no impediments toward getting to that goal on our side of the aisle,” he said on the floor.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenators briefed on US Navy's encounters with UFOs: report Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Trump weighs in on UFOs in Stephanopoulos interview MORE (D-Nev.) said McConnell mischaracterized the situation. He pointed out that more work needs to be done, including on nominees.

 “We have some nominations that we have an obligation to the American people to do,” Reid told colleagues in response. “We can finish the omnibus tonight but we’re not finishing [everything] tonight.”

Two Republican senators and a Senate GOP aide said a group of executive and judicial branch nominees are the remaining sticking point.

“We’ve cleared everything on our side. Noms are the holdup,” said a senior GOP aide.

Reid wants to confirm several controversial nominees, including Vivek Murthy, Obama’s choice to serve as the next surgeon general; Sarah Saldaña, his pick to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Carolyn Colvin, his selection to lead the Social Security Administration.

He also wants to move a dozen pending district-court judicial nominees.

“We’re going to be back on Monday because Reid is insisting on these nominees at the end of a lame-duck session,” said the GOP aide. 

A senior Democratic aide said Republicans are distorting the facts.

"This is simply not true. Republican objections to voting on the government funding bill itself are holding up an agreement to vote on the government funding bill," said the aide.

The Democratic expressed skepticism that Republicans are prepared to vote on the omnibus without additional votes on amendments, such as one favored by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage 2020 Democrat Bennet releases comprehensive government reform plan GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Texas) addressing President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

The Source said it’s possible the omnibus may receive a vote Friday evening but added it’s likely the Senate will be back in session next week to crank through the stalled nominees.

The aide said a package extending a variety of expired tax provisions could move as soon as Congress approves the omnibus and said the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act remains in the mix.

Senate Republicans would have to agree to amend the TRIA legislation to strip out a House GOP-authored provision that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the aide added.

Senate Democrats say unless Republicans agree to change the House-passed TRIA, it won’t move before year’s end. 

This post was updated at 11:30 p.m.