Source: Roll Call | Niels Lesniewski | April 26, 2017
Appropriators think they are close to a deal to fund the government through September, but the hour is fast approaching where a stopgap might be needed to prevent a shutdown at midnight Friday.
Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers, a former Appropriations chairman and still a senior member of the committee, described the leaders as, “within striking distance” on a fiscal 2017 spending bill.
Rogers added there are some still some “knotty issues” lawmakers need to contend with.
“I don’t want to see an extension,” Rogers said. “I want to see us finish this thing on time. However, if the time runs out on a Friday there is a little extra play room there.”
But House and Senate appropriators always prefer to get their bills through to the president’s desk before a funding deadline rather than resorting to continuing resolutions that effectively lock the government into existing funding and prevent lawmakers from really putting their stamp on operations.
Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, the chairman of the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee in the Senate, said that Wednesday was more than likely decision day.
“I think today is the last day you can sort of decide whether you’ve got an agreement you can put together by Friday, or you’ve got an agreement that you might not be able to put together until next Wednesday or so, and if you do, that’ll be the CR and not very complicated,”Blunt said.
Speaking after a legislative policy summit hosted by Baker Hostetler Wednesday morning, Blunt said he needed to be briefed on how much progress top negotiators made Tuesday night.
There has been talk of a one-to-two week continuing appropriations measure that could start in the House if an agreement is reached on broader funding. It can sometimes take days to ensure legislative language of an omnibus spending bill accurately reflects an agreement.
Among the remaining issues as of late Tuesday were a list of policy riders that Democrats have considered to be non-starters, including restrictions on access to family planning services, as well as funding for Medicaid for Puerto Rico.
The biggest ticket item still on the table was how to deal with cost-sharing subsidies paid to insurance companies designed to help low-income individuals afford health insurance under the 2010 overhaul law.
The talks have been described as having “five corners” instead of four, with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney playing a key role on behalf of the Trump White House.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reiterated to Mulvaney in a conversation Tuesday night that funding for the cost-sharing subsidies in the 2010 health law must be included in the upcoming spending bill in order to win support from Democrats, according to an aide familiar with that discussion.
— Kellie Mejdrich, Jennifer Shutt and Joe P. Williams contributed to this report.