The Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid , has so far failed to resolve partisan differences on offsets for an emergency extension of long-term jobless benefits that expired for 1.3 million Americans on Dec. 28.
But any one senator could trip up the timing of the omnibusís passage, which also could raise the threat of a shutdown.
The future of the long-term farm authorization and the unemployment extension is murky. The farm bill continues to be tied up by a variety of colloquial interests. Leaders had planned to hold an open hearing the first week back in January to let members air their grievances through amendment votes to finally wrap the legislation. But those plans were canceled after once-shrinking policy gaps on dairy pricing and product-labeling burst back open.
On the unemployment issue, Democrats and Republicans still cannot find a mutually acceptable offset to pay for the bill and both parties seem to keep moving their demands in ways unpalatable to the other side.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.