Appropriators appear to be making good progress on behind-the-scenes negotiations on a big omnibus bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
That's the word from Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate who also happens to wield the gavel of the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense.
"I just finished a Defense Appropriation subcommittee joint meeting this morning. We've agreed on virtually everything, but four or five issues," he said. "Those five issues are going upstairs, which is not unusual, to be decided at the full committee level. I hear that they're going to meet [on] Dec. 1, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, at the highest level to resolve these outstanding issues. We're moving forward on a good program to get an omnibus done."
Durbin warned against using another continuing resolution to keep the government operating past Dec. 11, a move suggested by a number of Republicans who want the chance for next year's GOP controlled Congress to weigh-in on federal spending early on, particularly in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.
But doing another stopgap bill would delay work on fiscal 2016 spending, an idea opposed by Appropriators on both sides of the aisle seeking a restoration of regular order.
"A CR, from the defense point of view, is disastrous," Durbin said. "It not only fails to fund things that are critical for our national defense, it puts the Department of Defense in a terrible situation in terms of trying to make our nation ready and prepared for anything that comes our way."
Durbin said he did not anticipate the executive action that Obama's scheduled to announce in a prime-time address Thursday would ultimately upend the omnibus talks, dismissing the idea of Obama waiting until after the government funding debate came to a resolution to act.
"I don't think this is going to stop us from doing our duty when it comes to [the] omnibus appropriation bill. The CR would be disastrous, and I hope it doesn't happen," said Durbin. "Secondly, the president felt, and I agree with him, waiting until Congress left town looks cowardly and defensive. We are stepping forward in what we consider to be best for this nation."
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