2016 Budget Update: Last Friday, Congress passed H.R. 2250, a 5-day Continuing Resolution (CR), to provide lawmakers with a bit of extra time to negotiate the details of the 2016 omnibus spending package. Members of Congress now have until midnight Wednesday to pass the omnibus bill.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) has said the goal is for the spending agreement to be filed today, and for both the House and Senate to meet Wednesday’s deadline.
Two main issues are getting in the way of an agreement being reached on the spending legislation. The first is the desire of majority leaders in the House and Senate to attach a package of tax provisions to the omnibus spending bill that would grant “hundreds of billions of dollars of permanent tax breaks for corporations and special interests while neglecting hard-working families,” according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Pelosi warned Republicans against linking this tax deal to the omnibus, stating that there is little support among Democrats for such a package.
The second is a controversial set of policy riders (policies that are attached to spending bills that do not relate to spending). Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the more than three dozen policy riders that Congressional Republicans are trying to tie to the omnibus bill “poison pills”. These “poison pills” include: A provision which would provide a legal path for health providers and organizations to sue a government body that has punished them for refusing to provide access to abortion-related services; a campaign finance provision which would provide big-money donors with a new avenue to give large sums to help their favored candidates; a provision blocking Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S.; a provision repealing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule passed last May that extends EPA’s regulatory power to small waterways such as wetlands and ponds; and others. Democrats have made it clear that they want a “clean” omnibus bill, meaning no policy riders are included in the legislation. We will keep you informed regarding the progress of the omnibus bill this week.