Negotiators trying to strike a deal on a year-end omnibus appeared no closer to a deal following a weekend of talks, with House leaders raising the possibility of a rare weekend session to give Congress more time to finish up work on a $1.1 trillion spending package for fiscal 2016.
On Monday, senators from both parties showed little optimism that a deal could be reached shortly, reported CQ Roll Call. If Republicans and Democrats fail to reach an agreement in time for both chambers to pass an omnibus by Dec. 11, lawmakers would need to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open after Friday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Monday told a radio station in Janesville, Wis., that Congress might need “more than just this week to get these issues put together correctly.”
Appropriators had aimed to release the text of an omnibus agreement by Monday night, but disputes over whether to include policy riders dealing with Syrian refugees, environmental and financial regulations, campaign finance and a variety of other contentious issues mean lawmakers will miss that deadline.
Negotiations “seem to be stuck,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), ranking member on Senate Appropriations, said on Monday.
Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), a Republican appropriator, agreed that negotiations are not going smoothly. “I’d say there’s a good chance we will work it out, but we haven’t worked it out yet,” Shelby said.
Negotiators from both parties have declined to identify specific sticking points, but one major question remains how Congress will address the Paris terrorist attacks. President Obama and Democrats have opposed including language tightening the vetting process for refugees from Syria and Iraq. Language restricting the visa waiver program could be included instead.
At this point a government shutdown seems unlikely, as leaders of both parties have said they’re open to a short-term stopgap to provide more time to finish negotiations.