House Democrats are raising concerns about the deal struck late Tuesday night on a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill, legislation that would avert a government shutdown and fund government through October of 2016.
“There are concerns that we have about jobs. Jobs will leave the country because of lifting the ban on crude oil,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Wednesday morning. “We are concerned about the ignoring of the urgency of the situation in Puerto Rico where American citizens are really in a situation that we must address.”
The spending deal, called the omnibus, was filed in the middle of the night Wednesday setting up a vote on the measure Friday in the House.
These last minute complaints by Pelosi after weeks of back and forth negotiations could be problematic for the overall bill as Democrats are expected to provide the bulk of the votes to pass the omnibus out of the House.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., played down the possibility that the bill was in jeopardy, stressing that this is the best deal both sides could get.
“I have no reason to believe that we're going to have a shutdown. In divided government, you don't get everything you want. This is the result of a bipartisan, bicameral compromise,” Ryan said following a closed door meeting of House Republicans.
Pelosi’s Democratic counterpart in the Senate — Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., — seemed to agree with Ryan.
“This compromise isn’t perfect, but it is a good, good for the American people. And if it weren’t for Democratic efforts, it would have been a lot worse,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
The White House released a statement late Wednesday in support of the omnibus stating it appreciates the bipartisan effort and noting the deal is “largely free of new unrelated ideological riders.”
But conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said the spending deal was “too big” and won’t have a majority of Republicans behind it.
“When you don’t have anything on Syria in there and the pro-life gets are pretty small, there is just not enough in there for all the massive spending increases,” Huelskamp said.
A major tax extender package to renew dozens of expiring tax breaks was also agreed upon — about $750 billion in breaks in all — with some tax breaks lasting just two years while others will be permanent. The House will vote on this package Thursday and is expected to pass with overwhelming support from Republicans.
For weeks now, negotiators have been working their way through several partisan policy provisions that lawmakers on either side of the aisle have been trying to have included in the Omnibus — commonly called "riders."
Republicans were able to score a major win in the omnibus with lifting the 40-year ban on exporting American crude oil.
"It's something that I think is very important for our economy," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters of lifting the oil export ban, "I think it helps with jobs, I think it helps with our energy security, and it helps our allies who are wanting to buy product from us rather than other places."
The provision to lift the oil export ban, however, was included in the Omnibus rather than the tax extender deal to try and “sweeten” the deal leaders knew would be unpopular among Republicans.
The problem? House Democrats consider this a poison pill in the omnibus.
"I think you play the hand your dealt, and we didn't have a whole lot of leverage in this negotiation because Democrats didn't want anything," Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-South Dakota said, "They get everything they want because they have an administration that's imposing all these heavy handed regulations on the country and we're trying to roll back some of the harm that has been done."
In the wake of the recent terror attacks, lawmakers decided to include language in the spending deal that tightens the Visa Waiver Program. Leaders decided to leave out language, however, that conservatives wanted included that would have increased the vetting process for Syrian refugees to enter the country. Democrats strongly objected to any provisions being included dealing with the refugee program.
There is also bipartisan support for the inclusion of a couple intelligence acts — the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 and the FY16 Intelligence Authorization Act.
“These bills are vital for protecting America’s digital networks and for implementing the necessary funding, authorizations, and oversight for the Intelligence Community,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“It is the most significant effort by Congress to address the cyber threat to date, and should now become law,” said House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Language is included, as well, preventing detainees from being transferred from Guantanamo Bay to America.
The Affordable Care Act will also be impacted by these two deals. Ryan announced tonight the Omnibus will include delaying a provision in the ACA — known as the "Cadillac tax," a tax on high-cost healthcare plans — for two years. And in the tax extender package, there will be a two-year suspension of the medical device tax.
Noticeably missing from the deal — and a blow to congressional Democrats — is the lifting the nearly 20-year ban on the Centers for Disease Control to study the impact of gun violence. That despite Pelosi personally raising the issue with the speaker himself late last week.
But an important addition to the bill for the New York delegation was the permanent extension of healthcare benefits to first responders of the September 11th terrorist attacks who are ill because of their time working at Ground Zero.
This extension comes after comedian Jon Stewart and dozens of sick first responders lobbied tirelessly for the money on Capitol Hill for months.
Pelosi called the tax extender package an “immorality” for how it damages the future.
"It forecloses our option of doing real, meaningful tax fairness and simplification, where we could lower the corporate rate and have growth," Pelosi said.
Another notable development with these two deals, in an effort to restore regular order to the chambers, Speaker Ryan announced Wednesday that he and Sen. Reid came to an understanding in the last few days that the Democratic Leader would not block individual appropriations bills from coming to the floor next year.
“Senator Reid has impressed upon me his desire to get the appropriations process functioning again, and to allow appropriation bills to come up for consideration,” Ryan said.
Both Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are confident Congress will pass both of these major bills this week before they are set to adjourn for the year.
Senate Republicans met to discuss the deals Wednesday morning, and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he's hopeful that all 100 Senators will agree to bypass the necessary procedural hurdles and vote on both the Omnibus funding bill and the tax extenders package on Friday after the House has passed both measures.
A short-term continuing resolution passed Wednesday will give lawmakers until December 22nd to pass the year-long spending package.