Ryan unveils sweeping $1.8T deal on government funding, taxes

Greg Nash

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced to the House Republican Conference on Tuesday night that leaders have reached a sweeping year-end deal on taxes and funding the government after days of intense negotiations.

The full text of the 2009-page omnibus bill was posted online early Wednesday morning at about 1:30 a.m.

The delayed posting of the omnibus text means that in order to adhere to the so-called three-day rule, House GOP leaders will have to wait until Friday to hold a vote on the legislation.

{mosads}Lawmakers had exited a Tuesday night House GOP conference meeting with the expectation of voting Thursday on the spending package. But Ryan is unlikely to want to waive the self-imposed rule less than two months into his Speakership on such a massive bill, meaning the vote will likely slip to Friday.

In the meantime, the House and Senate are expected to easily clear another stopgap measure to keep the government funded through Dec. 22. Current funding expires Wednesday night.

Ryan unveiled the details of the agreement while the political world was fixated on the fifth GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas. 

He told colleagues that the spending bill will postpone the “Cadillac tax” on expensive healthcare plans and the tax package will place a two-year moratorium on the medical device tax, two critical sources of revenue for ObamaCare.

The Speaker told rank-and-file Republicans that they won more victories in the tax package than in the $1.15 trillion omnibus funding bill, which has been largely stripped of the policy amendments that Republicans wanted, according to a GOP lawmaker in the room.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said the tax package provides $560 billion through breaks that will no longer expire — and $650 billion in total tax relief — over 10 years.

The text of that bill, which runs more than 200 pages, was posted online just before midnight.

Several lawmakers who heard the presentation said the omnibus includes a two-year delay of the Cadillac tax, something senior officials in the Obama administration opposed.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made an all-out push for including the Cadillac tax freeze, which is a top priority of labor unions, whose members would be hit especially hard by it.

The deal also includes a five-year extension of tax breaks for wind and solar energy companies, something Democrats wanted.

It extends the 30 percent solar investment tax credit and a credit for solar-powered energy-efficient properties for three years before phasing it down in the final two.

The deal also extends the wind protection tax credit for two years before phasing it down over three years until the 2022 expiration date.

In exchange, Republicans have secured language in the omnibus that would lift the ban that has been in place since the 1970s on exporting crude oil from the United States.

Ryan emphasized that many popular business tax provisions, including the research and development tax credit and the Section 179 small-business expensing deduction, would be locked into law by the agreement.

Democrats in turn won provisions that would keep the 2009 expansions of the child tax credit, earned income tax credit and American opportunity tax credit for college tuition, all core pieces of President Obama’s stimulus law, on the books indefinitely.

“This evening Republican members were presented an omnibus spending bill and a robust tax extender package that will provide permanent relief to families and job creators,” said AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman.

“While not getting everything we wanted, the Speaker noted that both packages include many provisions that Republicans have long fought for,” she said.

The deal also extends the state and local sales tax deduction indefinitely, another one of Reid’s priorities, as well as the deduction for teachers’ out-of-pocket classroom expenses.

It locks in the minimum 9 percent low-income housing tax credit rate floor and the employer wage credit for employees on active military duty.

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, scored a victory with the inclusion of language extending a mass transit tax benefit for the long-term. His office estimates it would save riders on the Long Island Rail Road more than $1,300 a year.

Schumer argues mass transit riders should get the same tax benefit as people who commute by car. Under current law, the monthly exclusion for employer-provided parking benefits is $250. 

The omnibus also includes a $8.1 billion extension of the healthcare and compensation benefits for rescue workers who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Some conservatives are vowing to vote against the spending bill because it does not include language to halt the administration’s program to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “There’s a lot of reason for Republicans to vote for it.” But he declined to predict how many Republicans would support it.

“Even when I was the whip I wouldn’t tell you the number,” he said while leaving the closed-door meeting. “Let ’em read through it, and we’ll know more tomorrow.”

Naomi Jagoda contributed reporting.

– Updated on Dec. 16 at 5:03 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Harry Reid Kevin Brady Omnibus spending bill Paul Ryan
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