Tags: federal | spending | bill | government | shutdown

Funding Battles May Bog Down Federal Spending Bill

By    |   Monday, 08 Dec 2014 11:19 PM

Contentious skirmishes over policy changes – from first lady Michelle Obama's school-lunch nutrition mandates to a package to renew a terrorism insurance program – are threatening to delay a $1 trillion spending bill that would avert a government shutdown this week, reports say.

The New York Times reports that under a plan drafted by House and Senate Appropriations Committees, President Barack Obama would get $5.4 billion in emergency funds to battle Ebola, and more than half of the overall package – about $554 billion – would go to military spending.

The plan also would allocate some $948 million to handle the surge of unaccompanied minor children who poured across the southern border last June, The Times reports.

And overall, the spending bill would fund almost all the government through September 2015, though it would keep the Department of Homeland Security open only through February to keep pressure on the president over his executive action to defer deportation of as many as five million illegal immigrants.

Yet some issues are proving harder to resolve than expected, including those to ease standards on school lunch content, the Environmental Protection Agency's jurisdiction over some bodies of water, and pressure from conservatives to include a "conscience clause" for employers who say funding contraception violates their religious beliefs, The Times reports.

"Nobody here is disagreeing on nutrition in school lunches," Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, member of the House Appropriations Committee, told The Times. "It's just that sometimes people carrying out your wishes are so overzealous they go beyond what you were asking."

According to Politico, Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the Financial Services Committee, is also trying to use the negotiations over renewing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act to enact changes to Dodd-Frank, the 2010 banking regulation law Republicans have tried to dismantle.

But New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and the White House are opposed, and think Hensarling is overreaching and slowing the talks, Politico reports.

Republicans also are blasting Senate Democrats for including language to install a person with community banking experience on the Federal Reserve board of governors – a standoff that has forced congressional leadership to intervene to try to resolve the impasse, Politico reports.

The fights, including another one over bipartisan changes to multi-employer pension plans, are delaying the government funding debate at the 11th hour, the reports say.

The government will shut down Thursday night unless Congress passes a bill, and Republican House Speaker John Boehner wants to give lawmakers three days to read a bill before voting, Politico reports – meaning Boehner would have to post legislation Tuesday morning in advance of a Thursday vote.

Politico notes it's possible Congress could pass a two- or three-day stopgap-funding bill so lawmakers and aides can iron out the contentious issues.

"I remain cautiously optimistic that there will be sufficient votes," Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent told The Times. "Maybe in the new year we add some policy riders, but at the end of the day we're going to pass the Homeland Security bill, so why not do it now rather than wait."

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Contentious skirmishes over policy changes – from first lady Michelle Obama's school-lunch nutrition mandates to a package to renew a terrorism insurance program – are threatening to delay a $1 trillion spending bill that would avert a government shutdown this week, reports say.
federal, spending, bill, government, shutdown
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2014-19-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 11:19 PM
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