Week ahead: Congress scrambles on spending bill

Congress is aiming to hammer out a deal on an omnibus spending bill with the Dec. 11 deadline for government funding fast approaching.

In recent days, Republicans and Democrats in the House traded offers without a resolution on the legislation that would fund the government through September.

Lawmakers need to reach an agreement by the coming Friday to avert a government shutdown.

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Negotiations are being held behind closed doors and no details about the contents of a possible agreement have leaked out of the talks, a possible sign that congressional leaders are inching closer to the finish line.

The fight is centered around several contentious policy riders.

House Democrats quickly rejected the first offer from Republicans, citing more than 30 “poison pill” policy attachments they said were unacceptable.

But the spending bill isn’t the only policy focus next week. Negotiations are also expected to continue on a package that would renew dozens of expiring tax breaks.

Lawmakers still need to hammer out whether to include a delay or repeal of ObamaCare's “Cadillac tax” on high-cost insurance plans.

The price tag — in the range of about $800 billion over 10 years — is also a concern as they work toward a bipartisan agreement.

Democrats want to cement key provisions into the package, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

Senate Democrats have said they not only want to make the CTC permanent, they want to index the refundable tax credit to inflation. Republicans are insisting on reforms they say would reduce improper payments.

If Congress and the White House can't reach a deal that would make some tax breaks permanent, Congress would almost certainly pass a bill by the end of the year that renews the expired provisions for one or two years.

 

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