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Spending Bill On Track to Avert Shutdown

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sources say appropriations staffers worked significantly over the holiday recess to narrow the gap between the two sides, and Rogers, above, is set to meet with Mikluksi this week to iron out the final details.

On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that even as he was encouraged by the deal between budget chiefs Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., he was fearful that GOP lawmakers might renege on their earlier commitment and close down the government.

“I am afraid. Why am I afraid? It was just matter of couple of months ago that two-thirds of the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to keep the government closed and default on the debt,” Reid said. “So I hope we can get this done, but ... I am really concerned about what’s going on with Republicans in Congress. Repeat to your viewers. Two-thirds of the people in the House of Representatives are Republicans who voted to close the government, keep it closed more than 16 days and default on our debt. I mean, I want this to pass. I hope it does. It should, that we have an omnibus appropriations bill. But I don’t know.”

The success or failure of the package will test whether a Congress that has bridged differences over spending levels can govern, turning a page from 2013’s abysmal record on that front.

The Senate notably failed to approve any appropriations bills in 2013, as Republicans one by one rebuffed their colleague Susan Collins of Maine in a dramatic and awkward vote to filibuster the Transportation-HUD spending legislation.

Despite that, all eyes will likely be on the House anyway. In the lead-up to the December budget agreement, Rogers insisted that with higher-than-sequestration top-line numbers — which he then received from Murray and Ryan — he would be able to shepherd all 12 spending bills through the chamber by Jan. 15.

The proclamation at the time seemed ambitious at best, yet Rogers’ ahead-of-the-curve optimism is turning into reality, according to House Appropriations aides.

“Good progress is being made,” a Republican appropriations aide said. “Staff and members talked continually over the break. The goal remains to negotiate and complete all 12 funding bills before the January deadline.”

“Staff and members ... were working throughout the holiday break and over the weekend,” a Democratic appropriations staffer echoed, adding that ranking member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., “has been very much involved” in discussions.

“There are still open issues that need to be resolved related to both dollar figures and policy, but we are making steady and significant progress and are cautiously optimistic about meeting the January deadline,” the Democratic aide continued.

Emma Dumain, Niels Lesniewski and Tamar Hallerman contributed to this report.

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