Senate Democratic leaders hope to pass a package of three appropriations bills and a temporary funding extension this evening that will keep the federal government operating through mid-December.
The minibus is on track to be considered by the House this evening and, if passed, then sent to the Senate.
“The information I have gotten from the House, and that could change, is that it will be late,” Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor today.
Another option that is being explored, according to Senate leadership aides, is for Senate leaders to agree to have the Senate vote on the package before receiving it. The vote would deem the measure passed once the Senate officially receives the minibus from the House. The Senate used the same maneuver the last time they were waiting for a continuing resolution to clear the House.
Reid also said another possible option would be for the Senate to vote on the package Friday. The Senate is currently moving forward on the Defense authorization bill.
“It appears we’ll have to be in session to try to work through some of that bill anyway tomorrow,” Reid said. “So, we may not ... be able to complete the conference report and continuing resolution today.”
The minibus is made up of three individual spending bills including the Commerce, Justice and science appropriations bill; the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill; and the Agriculture, rural development, and Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill.
The measure also includes a CR that would keep the government funded through Dec. 16. The current CR expires at midnight Friday, which is the deadline for Congress to act or the government funds would cease to flow and the federal government would shut down.
The minibus has a host of gun provisions including three provisions, contained in previous spending bills, that would be made permanent.
Democrats stressed that the provisions were part of negotiations with Republicans and that a fourth provision sought by gun-rights advocates was dropped. That provision would have prohibited reporting on multiple sales to the same person of long guns, which have certain qualities including semi-automatic capabilities and take magazines.
“Not hunting rifles,” said a Democratic Appropriations Committee aide, who characterized the proposal as egregious.
The package also includes language that would increase the size of a mortgage the Federal Housing Administration can insure to $729,750, which is something housing industry advocates have been pushing for.
But the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America have come out against the measure and the new loan limits. The conservative groups have said they would key vote the minibus bill, which helps determine their support for candidates in the upcoming elections.
The Club for Growth specifically pointed to the increased loan limits as the reason it opposed the package.
“By increasing the limit, the government increases the risk that taxpayers will end up on the hook for non-performing loans,” the group said in a release. “Government housing subsidies greatly contributed to the 2008 housing crisis. We should not make that mistake again expecting a different result.”
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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