Raise your hands if you thought that everything was business as usual on the Hill and the cromnibus was a done deal. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Okay, I guess it was just me. If you were in the army of doubting Thomas types, it may turn out that you were right after all. Roll Call has been knocking on doors behind the scenes, and the Sure Thing which was supposed to be signed by Wednesday isn’t looking so sure after all.
The release of the “cromnibus” has been delayed as lawmakers across the Capitol continue to work out a number of issues on the spending bill.
House and Senate appropriators expected to finish the legislative language of the cromnibus — a combination of a continuing resolution and an omnibus — by Monday afternoon. But negotiators are still dealing with a number of issues, according to GOP aides. The House was expected to release the text of the bill Monday night. That now seems unlikely, as does a vote on the bill in the House Wednesday.
“The playing field of questions is much larger than we previously realized,” one senior Republican aide said.
Leaving the House floor Monday afternoon, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he had to “catch up with” Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., but said negotiators appeared to be “closing in on some final points” and “finishing out final details.” He wouldn’t commit to a timeline for filing the cromnibus, but predicted the chamber would finish its work by Thursday as planned.
It still sounds like most of the major players, including McCarthy, are painting a positive face on all this, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. There are several EPA riders to defund power plant regulation enforcement to be dealt with, and each one could drive away some Democrats. The Homeland Security funding is still only good through March, allowing the new Republican majority in the Senate to deal with the executive amnesty question next month, but that’s apparently still not good enough for some conservative Republicans who may prefer to go down swinging rather than wait an entire 34 days to tackle that portion when their colleagues in the upper chamber are no longer in the cheap seats. Back on the House side, McCarthy and Boehner may have to rely on the good will of multiple Democrats, but then we come back to the EPA riders. If they are forced to give those up to keep the D team on board, it has the potential to cause more of a revolt on the Right.
The takeaway on this one seems fairly simple: nothing is ever easy in Congress. But this may be the last flare and perhaps some good Christmas cheer will show up and get this done by Thursday. If not, things get more … interesting. As in, may you live to see interesting times.