Spending deal may not come together until next week

Source: Hannah Hess, Geof Koss and Manuel QuiƱones, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2015

The House appears headed for a Friday vote on the short-term continuing spending resolution to keep the federal government open while lawmakers continue to negotiate a long-term deal.

Senate and House leaders have yet to say how long the CR will be for. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters today that she expected it to be “very short.”

Ongoing talks are focusing on whether the spending bill will also include a measure to extend a slew of tax provisions. Policy riders also continue to jam the process.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said “several dozen” riders, including a provision targeting U.S. EPA’s Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule, were still part of the negotiations.

“There’s a lot of unresolved issues. Some are being handled by leadership, and then a whole host of others will be considered at the committee level, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Rogers said. “We are making progress.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) thinks there’s a chance of getting the water rule rider in. “Obviously, nothing’s final till everything’s final, but it’s certainly in the mix,” he said.

If Democrats and Republicans can agree on a tax extender package, Rogers said he would have “no problem” with it being attached to an omnibus. Pelosi has expressed concerns about such a step.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “wants to push as much of this as he can to the committee level,” according to Rogers, who commended Ryan for being “very effective.”

Rogers told reporters not to expect text of the spending agreement until next week, although he later walked back that statement, saying he hoped for “a breakthrough that would propel us toward a bill soon, but it’s too early to predict that.”

Also on the table is a measure to lift restrictions on crude oil exports. Democrats would likely get concessions for agreeing to the proposal, potentially including no new policy riders.

Asked about progress on the exports front, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) replied, “We’re working on everything.”

Hoeven said, “First of all, the oil export ban should be passed on the merits. And in the case of [the water rule], you’ve got a lot of bipartisan support, you got 11 Democrats on board. And I think if it’s in there, it helps the whole package draw votes.”

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today reiterated the administration’s position that it would not negotiate on riders, including one to block her department’s proposed stream protection rule.

“We do not support the riders, and the stream protection rule is one of them,” she said. “It’s very important to the administration that that goes through.”