Legislative Update for Week Ending December 11, 2015

Legislative Update for Week Ending December 11, 2015

This week, lawmakers continued working towards an omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year.

Lawmakers Work Towards Omnibus

This week, Members of Congress continued working on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government past December 11th. Lawmakers in the Senate passed a five-day continuing resolution on Thursday afternoon to buy more time for the negotiations. At the time of writing this week's update, those in the House had not yet passed the stopgap funding bill, but they are expected to overwhelmingly vote in its favor before midnight on December 11th, and President Obama has already said he will sign the short-term fix into law.

The continuing resolution will give appropriators in the House and Senate five extra days – until Wednesday, December 16th – to work out the final details of the omnibus. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (TX) told reporters on Thursday, “There are a few outstanding issues that have not yet been resolved.” However, he said he’s hopeful that the omnibus will be filed on Monday after a weekend of negotiations.

Several controversial policy riders are currently acting as hurdles in the discussions. Many are pushing to revive expired tax breaks for businesses, while some are hoping to put an end to restrictions that ban the exportation of crude oil. Other potential riders include changes to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, new research on gun violence, and an extension of health benefits for 9/11 first responders.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has said President Obama is involved in the discussions and that he is monitoring the movement of the omnibus very closely. Regarding the controversial add-ons, he told reporters, “Our objection comes to ideological riders that are partisan and that in most other cases would not be able to pass the United States Congress.”

Leaders in Congress seem optimistic that they will reach a deal in the coming days. In a brief with the Republican Conference on Thursday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-1) said, “I believe we will successfully complete the negotiations. We’re not going to rush it. We’re going to get it right.”

With just days remaining before the looming deadline, TSCL will be keeping a close eye on the evolving omnibus bill. If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement in time, the federal government would once again shut down, and Social Security beneficiaries could see delays in their monthly checks. In addition, reimbursements for doctors who treat Medicare patients could be interrupted. For updates on the progress of the omnibus over the next few days, visit our page on Facebook, or our new account on Twitter.