House scrambles to pass omnibus spending package

- Maret 22, 2018

With government funding running out midnight Friday, House GOP leaders are scrambling to push a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill through the chamber today, only hours after unveiling its text.

But House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are pushing back, trying to defeat the bill on a parliamentary vote this morning.

Top Republicans privately believe Pelosi’s gambit will fail, but the last-minute maneuvering shows how confused the outlook for the omnibus package is on Capitol Hill at this moment.

While large majorities in both parties want the bill to pass — and voted for the budget agreement that ended last month’s government shutdown — lawmakers are using what is likely the last “must pass” legislation of the year in order to move their own proposals or score some political points.

There also has been little time to review the huge bill, well over 2000 pages long, which has upset lawmakers in both parties.

Pelosi is urging her members to vote against the House rule to consider the omnibus — the first step on the floor to debating the package — after congressional leaders failed to secure protections for Dreamers in the funding bill.

While Pelosi is supporting the overall spending package — she and other Democrats have bragged that they defeated many “poison pill” rides sought by Republicans — the California Democrat is unhappy that there was no action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump has sought to end the program, although the issue is now likely heading for the Supreme Court.

“The Republicans could easily have joined us in providing real protection for the Dreamers but refused to do so,” Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues sent overnight.

Pelosi’s position may be a problem for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his top lieutenants. A number of conservative Republicans, including the House Freedom Caucus, are opposed to the package. Republicans believe some Democrats will support the rule — despite Pelosi’s push — because they want provisions in the omnibus.

Trump's apathy toward the omnibus package is also a potential issue. While he has publicly called for its passage, Trump on Wednesday vented to Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that he wanted more money for his border wall with Mexico. Ultimately, Trump agreed to sign the bill once it’s passed, but only after creating a panic with GOP leaders who had to scramble to convince the president that he had secured real legislative wins.

GOP conservatives have already come out against the bill in droves. It took just minutes after the bill’s release for the House Freedom Caucus to formally oppose it.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said he and many of his members are leaning ‘no.’

“There’s good and bad and ugly, except the bad and ugly is really bad and ugly, so we’ll see what happens,” Walker said Wednesday night.

Congressional leaders considered several options for trading Dreamer protections for wall funding in the omnibus but ultimately couldn’t come to a deal. The White House wanted full funding for the wall — $25 billion — but Democrats were only willing to consider that if Republicans agreed to offer Dreamers a path to citizenship, not just a temporary reprieve.

“While some may differ, many Dreamers and their supporters made it clear that they did not want to accept a patch of less value tied to intensified interior enforcement,” Pelosi wrote.


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