“I think there are a few outstanding issues that have not been resolved. But it’s kind of one of those things where nothing’s resolved until everything’s resolved,” Cornyn said Thursday.
The hope, Cornyn added, is that once the House passes the funding bill—which could include a tax deal—Wednesday, the Senate can get a unanimous agreement to pass the bill that evening, avoiding the need for another short-term continuing resolution.
Still, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said although the House expects to post a finished bill Monday, there could be a need for another short-term spending measure to give the Senate time to work through procedural hurdles.
He said, as members were leaving the Capitol on Friday, that many of the outstanding policy issues had been kicked up to leadership, so appropriators were waiting for a deal to be cut so they can write the bill, have it scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and post the text.
“Some of these things, the big policy questions, of course, will be dealt with by the leadership,” he said. “The run-of-the-mill appropriations stuff, we’ll take that up when leadership deals with the policy issues.”
There are still several issues left to resolve for Congress to pass a tax deal as well. Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch said Thursday that he would stay in Washington through the weekend to try to get a larger deal on tax extenders, but suggested that negotiators may soon have to move on to a two-year extension of current policy if a larger deal can’t be made.
“Both sides are doing their very best to get the issues that are as good for their side as they can and that’s what’s happening now,” Hatch said Thursday. “But soon we’ll come up against the wall of having to act and I think when that happens, hopefully we’ll get this done. I can live with the two-year program.”
Hatch was wary about discussing details of the potential, larger deal with the press, but did say that any package he would accept would include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s risk corridors provision, often referred to by Republicans as bailout money for insurance companies.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was optimistic Congress would pass the omnibus before the deadline, but said her caucus will firmly oppose the larger tax extender package—even if it’s rolled into the omnibus. “I don't see very much support on the Democratic side for the tax-extender bill,” she said. “It's a massive, permanent giveaway—[an] unpaid-for tax-extender package, which is really destructive. … I wouldn't vote for it, and I wouldn't recommend that anybody else vote for it.”
The size of a final tax package is a concern for many Democrats throughout the Capitol, particularly because many of the tax breaks that would be made permanent are not fully paid for. But Hatch argued Thursday that by focusing on the size of the deal, Democrats are missing many policy victories for both parties made possible by a larger agreement. “It’d be really stupid for the Democrats to not take the full [deal] ... because both sides are treated pretty fairly,” Hatch said. “The Democrats are treated well and we are too. It’s a classic compromise that really deserves to be done.”