Congress heading toward government shutdown as spending talks drag on
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — With Congress heading toward another government shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan says he is “hoping today” that negotiators will finalize an agreement Tuesday, and said congressional leaders are not yet discussing a continuing resolution as a backup plan.
“There’s some unresolved issues. We’re working through them as we speak and we’re hoping to post it today,” Ryan, R-Wis., said.
Appropriators are working nearly around the clock to finish the $1.3 trillion spending bill. One top GOP aide close to the negotiations said appropriators worked past 1 a.m. Tuesday, before calling it a night and picking back up at 7:30 a.m.
The agreement requires bipartisan agreement from the White House and all four corners of Congress — Senate and House Democrats as well as Senate and House Republicans.
A top Democratic aide says “there are something like 20 riders still in play and at least a dozen other major issues still being discussed” at the negotiations. “This process just takes time,” the aide added.
Ryan signaled that Republicans appear ready to attach the Fix NICs gun purchase background checks bill, a move that could help build bipartisan consensus around the package.
“That’s something we’re discussing with our colleagues,” Ryan said. “I think we should do Fix NICS. I agree with Fix NICS. That’s something we’re discussing with our friends on the other side of the aisle.”
Rep. Dan Donovan, a New York Republican hoping to attach the Gateway Tunnel project to the spending bill, believes President Trump could be backing off his veto threat if the omnibus helps fund the project.
“This is important. It’s important to the nation. It’d be an economic stimulus,” Donovan said. “Certainly after Hurricane Sandy, our two tunnels were deteriorating because of the storm and building two new ones and retrofitting those two old ones will be an incredible boom to the country.”
Rep. Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus, said he will vote no because of the $1.3 trillion price tag.
“I’m not happy with the product that’s going to be there in four days, but we can get there. That’s the problem is we’re going to get there,” Brat said.
“I’m a no on just the spending piece alone,” he added.
For Donovan and the rest of Congress time is running out. Government funding lapses at the end of the day on Friday.
“We have to keep our government open,” Donovan said. “Nobody sent us to Washington to shut their government down. They sent us to make it work better for them.”
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