Tags: boehner | democrats | shutdown | averted | deal

Boehner, Democrats Near Spending Deal That Rejects Shutdown

Thursday, 04 December 2014 12:38 PM

House Republican leaders are close to sealing a deal with Democrats over objections from Tea Party lawmakers to fund most of the U.S. government through September 2015 and avoid a repeat of last year’s partial shutdown.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said today that he and his Senate counterpart, Democrat Barbara Mikulski, plan to “sign off on the final deal” tomorrow. House Speaker John Boehner has rejected calls from the Tea Party wing to require a spending bill to defund President Barack Obama’s orders easing deportations for some undocumented immigrants.

A previously skeptical Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, this morning signaled that the funding measure is likely to get members’ support if Boehner entertains some Democratic demands. A vote would take place next week. Congress must pass funding legislation by Dec. 11 or risk a partial government shutdown.

“Let us supply the votes to keep government open but we can’t do that unless we have a bill worthy of our support,” Pelosi, of California, told reporters today.

Boehner and his lieutenants in the House devised a two-step strategy to keep party members from using the government funding bill to vent their displeasure over Obama’s action on immigration. A Republican bid to use a spending bill to defund Obamacare led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013.

Symbolic Vote

In the first step, the House is set to cast a symbolic vote today against Obama’s Nov. 20 immigration order. The Senate doesn’t plan to take up that bill, and the Obama administration said today the president would veto the measure if it reached his desk.

The second step requires both chambers to pass a separate measure funding almost all of the federal government.

“We think this is the most practical way to fight the president’s actions,” Boehner of Ohio told reporters today.

In a minor concession to some conservatives, House leaders are considering a revision that would move up a fight over immigration funding to soon after Congress reconvenes in January instead of in March.

Democrats want to cut from the spending bill at least 70 Republican-sponsored provisions that would poke holes in Obama’s policies on the environment, health care and other matters, said Representative Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat.

‘Like Amtrak’

“We are like Amtrak,” said Mikulski of Maryland, the Senate appropriations chair. “We’ve left the station, we’re headed to our destination and we will have some stops along the way.”

The House two-step approach also sets up a clash over Obama’s immigration orders early next year, when Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will face more pressure from the expanded Republican majority to retaliate against Obama’s orders.

“There are three or four general arrows that are being talked about. Leadership, to their credit, is listening,” said Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican.

Under Boehner’s approach, the Department of Homeland Security, with primary responsibility for immigration policy, would be funded only into March 2015.

That lets Republicans keep “our leverage so that when we have reinforcements in the Senate, we’re in the strongest position to take additional action to fight the president’s unilateral action,” Boehner said.

Defunding Obamacare

The air of compromise contrasts with 2013, when at least 80 House Republicans signed a letter demanding to attach language defunding Obamacare to a government spending bill. If the House passes a funding bill with Democrats it would be a victory for Boehner in his first test after the November election in managing his conference’s Tea Party wing.

Some opponents of Boehner’s approach want funding for immigration-related agencies to expire in January so the new Republican-led Congress can defund parts of the agency tasked with carrying out Obama’s orders. Boehner may agree to move the date to February, according to a Republican aide who sought anonymity to describe the private talks.

Obama Encouraged

Obama said yesterday he was encouraged by statements from Boehner and McConnell about preventing another shutdown, “and I take them at their word.”

“The one thing I can say for certain is that no one benefits by the government shutting down,” the president told members of the Business Roundtable in Washington.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would be open to Boehner’s approach if Republican leaders could gather enough House votes to advance it.

Still, some Republicans in Congress are insisting on an immediate fight over Obama’s immigration orders by holding up funding for immigration-related agencies starting next week.

“The entire constitutional structure is at stake,” Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who opposes the funding measure, said today. “I don’t think it’s dawned on people” and “I don’t think we should be timid about it.”

At a news conference yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said passing a symbolic bill against the deportation orders would be a “meaningless show vote.”

Cruz, who led the drive for the 2013 shutdown, said Congress should pass a short-term spending bill that blocks Obama’s immigration orders through funding for the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

Block Confirmations

Cruz also said the Senate should block confirmations for all non-national security presidential appointments.

Reid said the Senate won’t consider the House bill being voted on today, H.R. 5759, which would deny the president authority to protect undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from deportation.

Obama announced Nov. 20 that he would temporarily halt deportations for about 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. His directive will defer for three years the deportation of people who came to the U.S. as children as well as parents of children who are citizens or legal permanent residents.

The Department of Homeland Security will streamline the visa process for foreign workers and their employers and give high-skilled workers more flexible work authorization.

© Copyright 2018 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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House Republican leaders are close to sealing a deal with Democrats over objections from Tea Party lawmakers to fund most of the U.S. government through September 2015 and avoid a repeat of last year's partial shutdown. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, a...
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Thursday, 04 December 2014 12:38 PM
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