A $1.1 trillion spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown was in jeopardy late Thursday, as House Republican leaders fiercely lobbied for votes in a high-stakes drama that illustrated as much the bickering among Democrats as laid bare the rift with conservative GOP members.
House Speaker John Boehner called a recess shortly after 2 p.m. after Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the bill because of two Republican additions that would roll back bank regulations imposed in the wake of the economic near-meltdown of 2008.
The chamber was still in recess at 8:30 p.m., a Boehner spokesman told Newsmax.
Pelosi charged that the GOP additions would cripple the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation Congress passed after the economic debacle and would allow wealthy contributors to increase the size of their donations to political parties for various causes.
The Obama administration supported the bill, even though it attacked the GOP additions.
Pelosi charged that President Barack Obama's support of the bill even with the provisions was even more disturbing.
"This is a ransom," the California Democrat charged on the House floor. "This is blackmail. You don't get a bill unless Wall Street gets its taxpayer coverage.
"It's back to the same old Republican formula: prioritize the gain, nationalize the risk," she later added. "You succeed, it's in your pocket; you fail, the taxpayer pays the bill. It's just not right.
"I'm enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way to they can get a bill is to go along with this," she said.
Shortly after the recess began, Pelosi sent an email to other Democrats urging them to hold out for a compromise with Republicans that would strip the provisions from the proposal.
"It is clear from this recess on the floor that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the cromnibus," she said in the email. "This increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision."
Pelosi referred to the working name of the $1.1 trillion legislation. It combines a "continuing resolution" to finance the Department of Homeland Security through February — with an "omnibus" element that funds the rest of the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Republicans want to only temporarily fund DHS to prevent the agency from carrying out the executive actions President Barack Obama announced last month to defer deportations of and grant work permits to illegal immigrants.
They would the revisit the department's funding issues when the GOP controls both houses of Congress.
The federal government runs out of money at midnight. A bill providing a 48-hour extension also was ready for a vote.
Both Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden worked the telephones during the recess lobbying Democrats to support the budget proposal, which would lock in cuts negotiated in recent years between Republicans and the White House.
The recess was part of overall drama in which the measure barely made it to the House floor for debate. A procedural vote to move the legislation forward passed by just two votes, 214-212, but not after Boehner walked the chamber actively lobbying other Republicans to keep it afloat.
Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who had not yet voted, supported the motion. He tied the vote at 213 each.
Michigan Rep. Kerry Bentivolio then switched his position to cast the deciding vote. Bentivolio lost his re-election bid last month and will not be returning to the House in January. He is ending his first term.
"I didn't want to put Nancy Pelosi in charge," Bentivolio later told the Detroit Free Press. He said that House leaders approached him twice but offered nothing in exchange for his vote switch.
The bill includes $2.5 billion that would provide such services to illegals as housing, medical care, education and relocation into communities throughout the United States.
Several Republicans said before the vote that they would not support the budget bill, regardless of its final form.
"Unfortunately, this spending package fails to take the necessary actions to defund the president’s lawless amnesty," said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. "It is not fair that hard-working taxpayers in Tennessee will now have to compete for jobs with illegal aliens, to whom the president is unilaterally granting work permits.
"Our workforce participation rate sits at a 36-year low, and more than 90 million Americans are out of work," she said.
In August, Blackburn sponsored legislation passed by the House to freeze the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Obama created in 2012 for illegals who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The president expanded the program in the executive orders he announced Nov. 20 in a prime-time national speech on cable television.
That bill, which was not considered by the Senate, was not part of Thursday's budget bill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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