Government spending fight: What will be in the bill?

Republican and Democratic staff continued to work through the weekend on ...

Posted: Mar. 19, 2018 12:40 PM
Updated: Mar. 19, 2018 12:40 PM

Republican and Democratic staff continued to work through the weekend on a massive spending bill to keep the government funded through September, with the goal of posting the final text Monday night.

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Both chambers need to pass the bill by Friday night to avoid a shutdown. It is possible that the release of the text might slide -- as of late Sunday night, sources say there was still a lot to finish up on the bill -- but at the moment, House Republicans will meet behind closed doors at 5:45 p.m. ET to discuss the bill.

Lawmakers won't get back to town until late, but getting their temperature will be important. By far the most important thing will be the reading the bill itself. No shortage of major issues are likely buried in there by the time it's all said and done.

Reminder: A large number of House Republicans, along with a chunk of Senate Republicans, will be deeply opposed to the bill -- and that's not a surprise. This was always going to have to be a bipartisan operation in both chambers.

Key point here: This is the last train leaving the station. Part of the reason it has taken so long to finish drafting is every lawmaker is keenly aware that this will likely be the last piece of significant legislation to make it to the President's desk in the 115th Congress (sorry infrastructure). As such, they are trying to pack in all sorts of priorities, goodies, carve outs and final plays to their constituents in a single, very large bill.

Time running out

This is a very tight timeline -- one lawmakers hoped to avoid by finishing the bill last week. They just weren't able to get it done, meaning they are going to have to move very quickly this week to avoid a short-term shutdown into the weekend.

Does anyone expect a shutdown? Absolutely not. But as we've seen, it only takes one senator to throw best laid timing plans out the window when things are this tight.

Key issues

Fate of the Gateway project funding: A huge priority for New York and New Jersey lawmakers, which sources say President Donald Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan multiple times, both in person and by phone, was a nonstarter for him and could lead him to veto the bill. CNN has been told it's now likely "out," but that's not a done deal yet.

The Affordable Care Act stability funds: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a promise last year to Sen. Susan Collins that her Obamacare stability legislation would be signed into law. As of this moment, it's still very much in play -- funding for subsidies to help cover people's health insurance costs paired with regulatory flexibility -- but it's still not a sure thing.

DACA: The White House publicly says it does not support a short-term extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, via legislation, in exchange for wall funding. Privately, it has been communicated differently to congressional staff. This remains something the President is interested in doing, sources say, even if not everyone on his White House team agrees with it. Still, it's a heavy lift for multiple reasons, and without the President clearly coming out and taking the lead to push for it, sources say don't expect it to end up in the bill.

RELATED: The race to fund the government is on (again)

Taxes: There has been a lengthy negotiation over a handful of "fixes" to the 2017 Republican tax law. Democrats have publicly been opposed -- they passed it on their own, they can fix it on their own, is the public stance. But behind closed doors they've offered tax provisions of their own in exchange for the fixes. Bottom line here is there is huge pressure from major constituencies to get these fixes included.

Guns: The omnibus has long been a potential home for several Republican-led school safety and background check measures. They fall far short of what Democrats have proposed -- and want to debate -- so it remains very unclear whether anything will get in.

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