Tue January 14, 2014
Not Everyone's On Board With The Omnibus Bill
Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:26 am
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The House of Representatives bought a little time today. It approved three additional days of funding for the federal government, which would otherwise run out of money tomorrow. It's just the latest sign that, unlike last fall, most lawmakers seem genuinely eager to avoid a government shutdown. House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a huge catchall spending bill, known as the omnibus.
While that's expected to pass both chambers and keep the government operating through September, NPR's David Welna caught up with a few lawmakers who still aren't happy about it.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: All 12 annual spending bills are wrapped into one in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. That's more than last year's budget but its $50 billion less than what President Obama sought, and $42 billion more than what House Republicans wanted to spend.
Nita Lowey is the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
REPRESENTATIVE NITA LOWEY: Reaching agreement on all 12 bills was not easy, required a tremendous level of operation and compromise. Nobody got everything they wanted.
WELNA: Still, Hal Rogers - who's the Republican chairman of the House spending panel - said his party from a hard bargain with the omnibus.
REPRESENTATIVE HAL ROGERS: We held the line on Obamacare. In fact, it's been reduced by removing a billion dollar slush fund that the secretary had access to for Obamacare. We took that away.
WELNA: That money, in fact, was not taken away. It was just barred from being used to promote the Affordable Care Act.
Georgia House Republican Phil Gingrey says he won't vote for the omnibus.
REPRESENTATIVE PHIL GINGREY: I don't want to continue to fund Obamacare. And there is definitely Obamacare funding in that bill.
WELNA: Western state Republicans are also unhappy with the package. Utah's Jason Chaffetz says, unlike past years, it has no money in it to compensate counties that have a lot of federal lands that cannot be taxed.
REPRESENTATIVE JASON CHAFFETZ: They need to have a payment in lieu of taxes. That's just the way it's worked for decades. To have that account be zero is painful.
WELNA: And for Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, the omnibus relies on uncertain promises.
REPRESENTATIVE JIM JORDAN: Yeah, it's the old spend $63 billion more today and we promise we'll save 85 billion in years nine and 10. Congress hasn't been - the track record for Congress hasn't been too good at keeping their word. So I'm voting no.
WELNA: It's not just Republicans who oppose this catchall spending bill. Raul Grijalva is a House Democrat from Arizona. For him, the bill does not do enough to undo automatic spending cuts.
REPRESENTATIVE RAUL GRIJALVA: I'm going to vote no because I feel very strongly that we need relief from the Budget Control Act. This is not relief. This is a two-year window. And like I said, you're attempting to fill an empty nest.
WELNA: Still, Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole says when the House votes tomorrow on the omnibus it should do well.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM COLE: I think it'll get a very substantial majority of the majority. And honestly, I think it'll get a substantial majority of the minority. So I think it's going to move through pretty easily.
WELNA: Swift approval is expected by the Senate, as well. David Welna, NPR News, The Capitol.
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