Democrats are resisting policy changes, including curbs on rules for banking and clean water, that Republicans are demanding as conditions of passing a $1.1 trillion spending measure to fund the government past Dec. 11.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Republicans to drop “cliffhanger fights” over such policy provisions. He listed a series of proposals opposed by Democrats after party members discussed a draft spending plan at a private meeting. The plan was presented by Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who negotiated it.
“There’s no reason the government should shut down,” Reid told reporters today. He said Republicans were “going at some of the basics that we believe in and have become part of our makeup, that has been clean air, clean water.”
He said it may be necessary to pass a stopgap spending bill for a few days to avoid a federal shutdown after current funding ends Dec. 11.
Reid said Senate Democrats oppose language in the proposed measure that would roll back a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law to allow more swaps trading at banks that have federal insurance.
Some Senate Democrats oppose the proposal, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren called the change “reckless” in a statement today.
The House and Senate want to vote on the spending legislation this week before leaving Washington for the year. It would put off until early 2015 a fight over Republican efforts to defund President Barack Obama’s plan to ease deportation policies for undocumented immigrants.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told reporters the Senate is “sort of waiting on the House” to send over the spending measure, though he didn’t discuss the bill’s contents.
Earlier today Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Congress is “on a good path” to a deal and that she is “very hopeful” that the bill will be completed and quickly passed.
Other provisions that may survive as part of the spending bill include a provision that allows exceptions to clean-water laws for agricultural refuse. Republicans also proposed cutting back safety rules intended to ensure that truck drivers get enough rest.
Another provision would block funding to enact rules that would tax and regulate marijuana in the District of Columbia. Reid of Nevada said that if the House includes that measure in the spending bill, “it’s going to be hard to take it out over here. But I oppose it.”
Even if the proposals remain in the House bill, Senate Democrats have been discussing ways to strip them out once the legislation lands in the Democratic-led chamber.
Democrats are considering the changes after fighting off several others. These include changes to District of Columbia gun laws and six other Dodd-Frank related policy changes, according to a Democratic aide who sought anonymity to discuss the talks.
While the spending bill would fund most of the U.S. government through September 2015, the Department of Homeland Security would be financed only through February, said a House aide who sought anonymity to discuss the private talks.
Republicans seek to use a funding debate over the agency responsible for immigration to defund Obama’s immigration policy, announced Nov. 20. Republicans will control the Senate and House of Representatives starting in January.
An agreement on the spending bill would be a victory for Republican leaders seeking to clear the agenda to advance other items next year.
Lawmakers overcame the biggest risk to the spending bill last week as House Speaker John Boehner rejected Tea Party Republicans’ insistence on using it to defund Obama’s immigration orders. Instead, on Dec. 4 Boehner let members vent with a symbolic vote disapproving of Obama’s immigration orders.
Democratic votes probably will be needed for House passage as the spending measure is opposed by some Republicans who wanted to force a confrontation on immigration this month.
© Copyright 2022 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.