Short-Term CR in Works as Talks Remain ‘Frozen’

Bipartisan negotiations over a year-end omnibus are stalled over whether to include about 40 contentious policy riders, forcing the House GOP to consider moving a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to provide the two parties a few more days beyond the Friday deadline to strike a deal.

The stopgap would last “a handful of days” and allow the government to remain open past Dec. 11 when the current CR runs out, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday following a meeting of the Republican conference.

The president would sign a CR that extends funding by an “extra day or two” while lawmakers “go through the legislative mechanics” of crafting and clearing a fiscal 2016 spending measure, said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, reported CQ Roll Call.

At the same time, Ryan vowed to finish work on the package before lawmakers head home for the holidays. “We don’t expect to do this for a long term. We need to get it right. I don’t want us to go home until we get this done,” Ryan said.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said “40 or 42 poison pill riders” are holding up the negotiations, including provisions targeting Middle Eastern refugees, abortion, campaign finance restrictions, environmental and financial regulations, and a National Labor Relations Board ruling. The two sides also are locked in a battle over a package of permanent tax extenders which may be attached to the spending package.

“We were making very good progress on resolving the money issues,” Mikulski told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We have about 40 or 42 poison pill riders, but some are really big — Hobby Lobby, campaign finance reform — things that should have never even been on the appropriations. So we’re kind of stuck at the riders stage,” she said.

Mikulski said negotiations mainly involved congressional leadership and the White House.

Dan Cohen
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