Contested Spending Bill Hangs in the Balance in Congress (Updated)
We’re teetering on the brink of a major holiday season, which can mean only one thing on Capitol Hill: looming legislative deadlock. On Thursday, House Democrats and Republicans weighed their options as they approached their scheduled vote on the $1.1 trillion spending bill that topped their to-do list.
But by that afternoon, as The New York Times relayed, the outcome was about as clear as mud:
Although Republican leaders still predicted passage, frustrations emerged over policy additions to the 1,600-page bill, with House Democrats objecting to a provision that rolls back an aspect of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which regulates Wall Street, and another party fund-raising provision that would give big donors more influence over political parties.
Lawmakers were also preparing a safety, short-term spending measure that would fund the government only into early next year, at which point Republicans — who will then control both chambers of Congress — would be able to renegotiate the spending legislation on more favorable terms.
[…] House Democrats — who were already trying to strike a delicate balance — found their calculation complicated by the White House, which released a pre-emptive signal that President Obama would sign the bipartisan legislation if it makes it out of Congress.
Josh Earnest, President Obama’s press secretary, said the administration agreed with congressional Democrats who were angry about several provisions that would roll back some financial regulations and would allow larger political contributions to parties during federal campaigns. But he called the funding bill “a compromise” and said passage of the legislation would be good for the economy and would bolster some of the president’s priorities, including consumer protection, early childhood education and fighting climate change.
Although there is ample incentive for both parties to see to it that the bill makes it through to signoff before 2015, the draft under consideration contains elements that have raised partisan hackles and held up the process.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for her part, protested Wednesday about aspects of the spending bill that she believes would further reward Wall Street and endanger the American economy. Meanwhile, Republicans rankled by President Obama’s recent power move on immigration were hoping the bill would undermine his authority more extensively on that front.
Whether they can work it out in time to head off another threat of government shutdown remains to be seen. Watch this space.
UPDATE: The House took action late on Thursday, approving the $1.1 trillion bill in a 219-206 vote, according to the Associated Press.
–Posted by Kasia AndersonWait, before you go…
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