Allahpundit noted this in an update, but it’s worth posting in its own thread. Despite Republican refusal to fund Homeland Security for the long term and unhappiness with several riders on the “cromnibus,” the White House announced today that Barack Obama won’t veto the bill — if it manages to make it to his desk. That still may be a mighty big if. The White House sent out this message to the media a few minutes ago:
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 83 – Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)
The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 83, making appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2015, and for other purposes. The Administration appreciates the bipartisan effort to include full-year appropriations legislation for most Government functions that allows for planning and provides certainty, while making progress toward appropriately investing in economic growth and opportunity, and adequately funding national security requirements. The Administration also appreciates the authorities and funding provided to enhance the U.S. Government’s response to the Ebola epidemic, and to implement the Administration’s strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as investments for the President’s early education agenda, Pell Grants, the bipartisan, Manufacturing Institutes initiative, and extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
However, the Administration objects to the inclusion of ideological and special interest riders in the House bill. In particular, the Administration is opposed to the inclusion of a rider that would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and weaken a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk. Additionally, the Administration is opposed to inclusion of a rider that would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to allow individual donors to contribute to national political party committee accounts for conventions, buildings and recounts in amounts that are dramatically higher than what the law currently permits.
Furthermore, the Administration is disappointed that the bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 27, 2015, at last year’s levels. Short-term continuing resolution funding measures are disruptive, create uncertainty, and impede efficient resource planning and execution.
The Administration urges the Congress to enact comprehensive full-year appropriations legislation for all Government functions free of provisions that have no place in annual appropriations bills.
Absent from this is a veto pledge, which is how such threats get communicated. The White House followed up with a clarification that it will reluctantly go with the funding bill in its present form:
White House says it supports passage of the #cromnibus. Doesn't like campaign finance or Dodd-Frank riders, but no veto threat.
— Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) December 11, 2014
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Obama also has reservations about aspects of the bill but wants to avoid economic headwinds that could be created if the spending bill fails.
Earnest said passage of the bill would “provide certainty to our economy.”
Again, though, that assumes that Harry Reid’s Senate will pass the cromnibus in its present form. The Senate could easily pass its own version and force the House to take another vote on its bill — and considering what happened today, a version favorable to Reid seems unlikely to do any better. Congress could go to conference on two proposals, which is what should happen in normal order, but that would delay the bill and probably would result in something worse than either chamber would produce separately.
The question will be whether Reid wants to bother with it now that the White House has signaled reluctant approval on the House bill. Bernie Sanders announced his opposition to the bill just as Josh Earnest was giving the glum thumbs-up from the West Wing, but Reid doesn’t need or want a united caucus. He needs just enough Democrats to play along to help Mitch McConnell get to a majority. Given the testy relations between Reid and the White House these days, Reid probably won’t want to play his normal role of blocker on legislation that the White House opposes, especially now that Obama has publicly said he’d sign the bill and complimenting the “bipartisan effort” that produced it.
Sanders gave the expected reasons for his opposition — pension reform, changes to Dodd-Frank that allows banks to trade in derivatives, and funding cuts to the EPA as well as the temporary funding for DHS:
“Instead of investing in rebuilding our infrastructure to create millions of decent-paying jobs, this bad bill would let companies renege on the promises they made to their workers by cutting pension benefits of current retirees,” Sanders said in a statement he previewed with The Hill.
“Instead of cracking down on Wall Street CEOs who plunged the country into a terrible recession, this bill allows too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets on derivatives that led to the largest taxpayer bailout in history and nearly destroyed the economy,” he said.
Expect to hear the same from the progressive wing of the Democratic caucus — Elizabeth Warren for sure, and others who can afford to cast a no vote or can’t afford to vote yes. One presumes that the few moderates in the caucus are already on board, such as Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and maybe Angus King.
If Reid can deliver a dozen or so Democrats, can Mitch McConnell deliver enough Republicans? Conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, along with libertarian Rand Paul, are likely to vote against it. McConnell would probably need to hold 40 votes or so in order to make sure it passes. Normally I’d assume that the votes have already been choreographed by Reid and McConnell, but after the near-fiasco of the House procedural vote this afternoon, I’m not so sure.
You know what would prevent these crises? Normal order. I wonder when — or if — we’ll ever return to it.
Update: Well, no one’s sure what Reid thinks yet, but Nancy Pelosi expressed her feelings about Obama for backing the cromnibus:
Pelosi "enormously disappointed" in White House for supporting cromnibus. "I feel sad for the American people today."
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) December 11, 2014
Pelosi acknowledges that "there will be bipartisan support for this bill." But "it will not have my support."
— Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) December 11, 2014
In fact, Pelosi told reporters that she feels “blackmailed” into casting a supporting vote now, even though her own colleagues were involved in drafting the bill:
Pelosi says she feels they are being "blackmailed" to vote for cromnibus.
— Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) December 11, 2014
Uh …. sure.