Democratic leaders on Wednesday slammed the Republicans’ opening offer for a fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill over more than 30 “poison pill” add-ons covering policy issues including the environment, financial regulations and Syrian refugees.
“Their offer wasn’t real. We couldn’t accept it,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
“When you’re working on a bill that, you know, we hope can pass the House and the Senate, you don’t send over an offer … that’s going nowhere,” Lowey said, reported the Hill.
On Wednesday night, Democrats said they intended to respond to the GOP with a counteroffer shortly. The back-and-forth comes as lawmakers are trying to strike a deal over a $1.1 trillion spending package before the current continuing resolution expires Dec. 11. Even though topline spending levels were agreed to in October’s two-year budget deal, Congress still needs to come to terms over 12 separate spending titles, including any language affecting federal policy.
The Republican’s initial offer, however, did not touch most of the thousands of smaller, line-by-line agreements on funding levels and bill language struck by appropriations staff in recent weeks, reported CQ.
The process is typical of high-level discussions conducted under a looming deadline, although the negotiations usually take place hidden from public view. In fact, Democrats said they will not be releasing any details on their response.
Examples of provisions rejected by the Democrats include one scaling back Wall Street reforms and another adding hurdles to the screening process for refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq, according to the Hill.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest echoed the concerns of congressional Democrats about the objectionable riders, and said Republicans are “whistling past the graveyard of a government shutdown.” Earnest specifically pointed to Republican language on financial and environmental regulations, reported CQ.