Deal on hardest part of omnibus emerging

Negotiators are making progress on the toughest part of the $1 trillion spending bill needed to keep the government open after next week.


The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill is the most problematic of the 12 annual appropriations bills and has proved so again this year as appropriators try to craft an all-inclusive omnibus package.

The bill contains funding for top GOP targets like ObamaCare, the National Labor Relations Board, and President Obama's education initiatives. An ObamaCare funding fight shut down the government for 16 days when the current fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

A stopgap spending bill in effect through next Wednesday passed after the GOP dropped its insistence that ObamaCare be defunded.

Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinErnst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race Biden unveils disability rights plan: 'Your voices must be heard' Bottom line MORE (D-Iowa) who chairs the Appropriations labor and health subcommittee said that both sides were close to releasing a draft of his panel's piece of the omnibus Friday. 

"We're close ... as of last night it's not what I would like and it's probably not what they would like either," Harkin said. "We're just working out language ... by tomorrow we'll have a draft out I hope."

"My bill is always the toughest," he said. "It's got the healthcare in it." 

Harkin predicted that the House and Senate could still pass the omnibus by next week.

"I think both chambers could pass it expeditiously," he said. 

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Harkin's negotiating partner, was tight-lipped when pressed on the status of the health and labor bill.

"We are working hard," he said, adding that he is pressing for "good government" policy riders in the bill. 

Kingston is running for the Georgia Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying world GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE (R-Ga.) and faces a primary race against Tea Party conservative Rep. Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounHundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Joe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia California lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment MORE (R-Ga.) and Rep. Phil GingreyJohn (Phil) Phillip GingreyEx-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street 2017's top health care stories, from ObamaCare to opioids Beating the drum on healthcare MORE (R-Ga.).