Congressional negotiators have wrapped up a sprawling deal to keep the U.S. government operating through next September while setting new policies ranging from repealing a 40-year-old ban on oil exports to making many business tax breaks permanent, according to Republican lawmakers.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers about the deal late Tuesday, urging support for the legislation, which would deliver Republican as well as Democratic wins. It would eliminate the possibility of government shutdowns until October 2016, according to lawmakers present.
"That's my understanding, that there is agreement on both tax extenders and the omnibus" spending bill," Rep. John Kline told reporters after leaving a closed-door meeting of House Republicans.
Republican lawmakers added that Ryan will put the tax and spending bills to a vote on Thursday, just before they leave town for the rest of the year. The Senate is expected to vote by week's end.
He has described the process around the sprawling spending bill as a "crap sandwich," and he announced the deal during the Las Vegas GOP presidential debate, which drew far more attention.
The package would raise domestic and defense spending and increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars by extending numerous popular tax credits without paying for them, and it would delays or suspend several taxes meant to pay for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. The GOP has long sought lifting the ban on exporting U.S. crude, and Republicans pointed to that as their top win.
Democrats won five-year extensions of wind and solar credits and a permanent extension of the child care tax credit, and they beat back many GOP attempts to add favored policy provisions to the bill, including several aimed at rolling back environmental regulations instituted under Obama.
Democratic aides cautioned that final language was still being reviewed.
Republican leaders predicted the package would come to a vote in the House and Senate on Thursday, allowing lawmakers to head home for the holidays having completed their needed tasks. First they will have to pass yet another short-term government funding extension, since the current one runs out Wednesday at midnight.
"In negotiations like this, you win some, you lose some," Ryan, R-Wis., said earlier in the day at an event hosted by Politico. "Democrats won some, they lost some. We won some, we lost some."
Eleventh-hour negotiations twisted and turned on the mammoth deal pairing the $1.1 trillion governmentwide spending legislation with a giant tax bill catering to special interests. The deal, Congress' last major piece of unfinished business for the year, became the vehicle for countless long-sought priorities and odds and ends, including extensions of health benefits and compensation for 9/11 first responders.
Democrats, despite their minority party status in Congress, exacted a steep price in the negotiations, due to to Obama's veto pen and Republicans' need for their votes on the spending bill.
"We may not be in the majority, but we're feeling that these goals are on track," boasted Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
The final package ignored conservative demands for language clamping down on Syrian refugees entering the U.S. Instead it contains bipartisan changes tightening up the visa waiver program, which allows visa-free travel to the U.S. for citizens of 38 countries, including France and Belgium, where many of last month's Paris attackers were from.
Republicans and some Democrats were behind the push for a two-year delay on taxes on high-cost health insurance policies, which don't take effect until 2018 but would be delayed until 2020, and a two-year suspension of the current 2.3 percent tax on some medical devices.