Members of the House Democratic Caucus listen to their Democratic Caucus Chairperper Nancy Pelosi at a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23, 2018. (Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images)
Democrat Leaders Say Plan for Spending Bill Next Week Could Be Planned Later With Election
House Democrats said that a vote on a spending package for the remainder of the year was expected next week after a successful meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning.
The package includes $73 billion for the Pentagon and domestic agencies, but also contains $65 billion for disaster relief after the recent spate of hurricanes and flooding. The funds would be enough to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 7, Democratic leaders said.
“There will be a conference committee established which will be, a bipartisan committee of appropriators, and we should be able to go forward with that. It is what we want to do,” said Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Pelosi indicated that it might be later in the process that a tax deal gets finalized.
“This may not be the right moment. Let’s keep on trying,” she said at a press conference.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declined to discuss details of the legislation, leaving it to the GOP and Democratic leaders to outline the package. But he made clear that the package will have a major component in the fight over immigration, citing the issue of protecting those in the U.S. illegally from deportation.
“I don’t want to talk about the policy specifics but I am supportive of the approach you heard here,” he said.
Pelosi’s team said that they were reassured after hearing from House Republicans that funding for members’ allowances and pensions will be protected under the package, which the Senate is expected to put on a fast track. In the Senate, Republicans have fewer than 20 members opposed to the package.
Democrats still have some concerns about tax reform, specifically whether changes to the alternative minimum tax will be covered, said Representative Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.
“I think it’s an important number,” he said. “I’m happy to share that with my members.”
Representative Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said he was concerned about what the package will mean for the Democrats’ ability to reverse the Trump administration’s agenda once they take control of the House.
“The bottom line here is we can’t count on a Republican-led majority in Congress to stand in the way of us passing health care for millions of Americans,” Van Hollen said.
This year’s government funding bill is a renewal of one passed in September, but it does not include money for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program. Democrats say that it is not fair to require funding for other programs while not securing additional support for CHIP. But Democrats have also indicated they will not demand that it be included in a final agreement.
A bipartisan and bicameral conference committee is expected to begin meeting after the election. The Senate is also expected to meet that process. If an agreement cannot be reached by Dec. 7, the spending bill passed last month will remain in effect.
Read: Democrats Look to Stalemate To Fight Tax Reform