Congress nears vote on $1 trillion spending bill – USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Congress is quickly approaching a Thursday deadline to keep the government funded, but top lawmakers were prepared to approve a stopgap funding measure if necessary to buy lawmakers more time.
“The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. There’s no reason the government should shut down, and we’re ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal on a $1 trillion spending package to keep the government funding for the full fiscal year except for the the Department of Homeland Security, which will be funded through early next year. The short-term funding will provide Republicans another opportunity to confront President Obama on his recent executive order on immigration.
Top Senate Democrats and House Republicans also reached a deal that bars the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana and derails an initiative that voters in the city approved last month, according to various news sources. With Republicans set to take over the Senate in January, speculation is that the measure would be suspended indefinitely, according to the Washington Post.
House and Senate leaders also propose adding a measure that would multiply by 10 the amount of money a person can contribute to a national political party from $32,400 to $324,000, according to The Hill. The proposed measure also would allow someone to give $648,000 in two years and allow a couple to give twice that amount over the same period, the news organization reports.
Republicans broadly oppose the president’s order to delay deportations for as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants, who will be able to apply for legal status. GOP leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have acknowledged there is little Congress can do to restrain the order because of the president’s veto power, but most Republicans would like to keep a legislative vehicle on the table as leverage for negotiations next year when Republicans have full control of Congress.
The Homeland Security Department oversees implementation of much of the nation’s immigration policy, so a stopgap measure for the agency will revive the immigration debate next year.
The full details of the spending package were released Tuesday evening. The House was aiming for a Thursday vote, while the Senate may need to work into the weekend to finish its legislative agenda, which also includes a defense bill and a one-year extension of certain tax breaks. The defense and tax bills have already passed the House.
“There’s a very, very good chance we’ll be here this weekend,” Reid said.
Senate Democrats, who lost control of the chamber in the midterm elections, are also working to confirm several lingering executive nominees before the next Congress. They include Sarah Saldaña, who President Obama tapped to be director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Carolyn Colvin, who was nominated to run the Social Security Administration.
One of the lingering hurdles for lawmakers was how to resolve an extension of the federal terrorism risk insurance program. House Republicans are moving forward Wednesday with a six-year renewal of the program, which has broad bipartisan support. Enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the program provides a federal backstop for insurance claims related to acts of terrorism. The legislation would increase to $200 million the trigger for government help.
However, Republicans have included in it unrelated provisions affecting the financial services industry that some Senate Democrats oppose. The timing of the vote means the Senate will either need to accept the House bill, or allow the program to expire. House GOP leaders continue to aim for a Thursday adjournment.