Spending talks ‘bogged down’ over riders

Source: Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lawmakers may work into next weekend to finish negotiations on a multiagency spending bill and a tax-credit extension package, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said yesterday afternoon.

“I don’t see any of them ending when it comes to extenders or when it comes to the” omnibus spending bill, the California Republican said.

McCarthy echoed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), who told a radio station in his home state of Wisconsin that the House may not finish its work this week, as many lawmakers want.

“It might take us more than just this week to get these issues put together correctly,” Ryan said.

This afternoon, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said talks had been “bogged down” by disagreements over policy riders. He said progress would happen through Republicans “abandoning their ongoing effort to advance their ideological agenda through the budgetary process.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) echoed Earnest: “These are Republican riders, Republican earmarks. As long as they are there, there can be no legislation. Without legislation, the government shuts down as it did a couple of years ago because of Republicans.”

There’s talk about the possibility of a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded amid the impasse.

“I don’t think that’s any problem,” McCarthy said.

Earnest has said President Obama would accept a short-term resolution only to finalize a deal, not to give lawmakers more time to negotiate.

“If Republicans try to pass a bill along party lines, it’s not going to work,” Earnest said, because the majority will likely need Democratic votes.

Keeping funding at current levels, he said, would negate a compromise budget agreement that “includes necessary and adequate funding for our national security.”

McCarthy said about spending talks: “I expect to see some movement on it. I have not seen enough. I am looking to keeping us working here on Friday.”

The federal government’s spending authority runs out Friday. When it comes to the tax package, which is less urgent, McCarthy said, “I’d hate to see extenders not get done.”

Many Democrats have expressed willingness to lift restrictions for crude oil exports in exchange for Republicans accepting renewable energy tax credits or letting go of policy riders.

“I think there’s a place where we could come to an agreement,” McCarthy said.