December 16, 2015

Policy Compromise Marks This House Spending Bill

With goodies for each party, chances are this bill will pass.

Whatever happens on Capitol Hill in the next few days, let’s remember that the outgoing speaker handed Speaker Paul Ryan the beginnings of this budget. It takes a while to turn a monolithic institution like Washington. Early Wednesday morning, the full-text version of the $1.1 trillion, 2,009-page spending bill was posted online. After negotiation, Republican and Democrat leadership left happy with the compromises (which is itself worrisome). If all goes well, then Ryan told GOP lawmakers he wanted to return to regular order in the New Year.

While spending levels are pretty much set, the sticking points were the policy amendments tacked onto this must-pass piece of legislation, the “riders,” as they are called in Washington. Among potential GOP accomplishments, the bill would delay implementation of ObamaCare provisions like the “Cadillac tax” on high-end health care plans and a tax on medical devices. The legislation would also lift the 40-year-old ban on oil exports — a measure for which the now-struggling oil industry lobbied for two years. As for Democrats, they were able to extend tax credits for wind and solar energy while blocking GOP efforts to end the visa-waiver program and Barack Obama’s immigration policies. GOP leadership doesn’t know how the rest of the party will vote on the spending bill Friday. In the meantime, members of the House Freedom Caucus are approaching the process critically, worried that GOP compromise will not result in Democrat compromise. This still is the first demonstration of Ryan’s leadership.

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