House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear to President Barack Obama he does not want to see another all-encompassing, year-end omnibus spending bill during a meeting Monday between congressional leadership and the president.
Leadership hopes to reach an agreement on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that includes Zika funding, according to an aide to the speaker.
“The speaker talked about his desire to get the appropriations process working, and told the leaders he objected to doing an omnibus spending bill later in the year. He also talked about the importance of taking care of our military through the appropriations process,” according to the GOP aide. “In addition, the leaders discussed other remaining priorities including legislation on mental health, criminal justice reform, and medical research.”
The Wisconsin Republican, a vocal critic of massive spending deals orchestrated behind closed doors, has been a strong proponent of returning to regular order in the appropriations process. But with the end of the fiscal year quickly approaching on Sept. 30, and the likelihood of getting all 12 bills passed looking nearly impossible, leaders in both chambers are stuck trying to figure out the best way forward on keeping the government funded.
The stop-gap measure would buy lawmakers more time to continue working on spending bills through mid-December while dodging a government shutdown.
Following a closed-door House GOP conference Friday, leaders floated the idea of passing a series of “mini-buses,” which would group a small number of appropriations bills together instead of legislation encompassing all 12. Proponents argue, while it’s not as optimal as completing the budget process, it is more digestible and transparent than one giant piece of legislation.
A number of conservatives have expressed their hesitation on the mini-buses passed along with a CR that ends before Sept. 30. Opponents of a short-term stop-gap argue it gives Democrats leverage in pushing their policy agenda since Obama no longer has an incentive to negotiate during the lame-duck session.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on a CR that runs through Dec. 9 Monday.
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