Paul Ryan Announces Funding Deal, Asks Caucus for Support

House Speaker Paul Ryan briefed GOP members late Tuesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan briefed GOP members late Tuesday. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

House Speak­er Paul Ry­an an­nounced a sweep­ing deal to keep the gov­ern­ment open and ex­tend a raft of pop­u­lar tax breaks Tues­day even­ing, telling the GOP Con­fer­ence that the com­prom­ise could be voted on as early as Thursday.

Ry­an called for a strong vote from his caucus, even though he con­ceded the bill would lack many of the le­gis­lat­ive riders mem­bers had been seek­ing. Many of those riders were sweeten­ers law­makers sought in ex­change for their sup­port of the $1.1 tril­lion spend­ing bill and ac­com­pa­ny­ing tax pack­age, the lat­ter of which grew greatly in size and scope in re­cent weeks.

“He feels we need to start fresh. We need to in­crease our hand; we’ll look bet­ter and we’ll have bet­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing po­s­i­tion­ing if we have a strong Re­pub­lic­an vote on this stuff this year,” Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Re­id Ribble said, ex­it­ing the meet­ing. “If we show weak­ness and we show di­vi­sion, it’ll be much harder to get Re­pub­lic­an policies in stuff go­ing for­ward.”

But Ribble said he is dis­ap­poin­ted by some of the con­ces­sions Re­pub­lic­ans had to make. Lan­guage for­cing ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials to sign off on every Syr­i­an refugee re­settled in the coun­try was scrapped in fa­vor of new, tight­er bor­der laws on those en­ter­ing the coun­try us­ing the visa-waiver pro­gram.

“In di­vided gov­ern­ment you’re go­ing to have some con­ces­sions; that’s what com­prom­ise is about,” he said. “And to get the good things that we thought we needed, that meant the Demo­crats were go­ing to get some of the stuff they wanted.”

The ab­sence of the Syr­i­an refugee lan­guage is likely to drive away a good num­ber of GOP votes. Mem­bers were look­ing to tight­en im­mig­ra­tion laws after the at­tacks in Par­is and San Bern­ardino.

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Lou Bar­letta said that while he is pleased the visa-waiver lan­guage is in­cluded, he is con­sid­er­ing vot­ing against the bill. “That’s a ma­jor stick­ing point,” Bar­letta said. “We were able to get the visa-waiver [lan­guage], which I was happy for. … But the Syr­i­an refugee [bill] is an is­sue that I feel very strongly about.”

The second bill, a tax pack­age that could cost up to $800 bil­lion, provides a huge win for the oil in­dustry by end­ing heavy re­stric­tions on crude-oil ex­ports that date back to the 1970s.

Lift­ing the de facto ex­port ban has be­come a ma­jor pri­or­ity for Re­pub­lic­ans, and some con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats, in­clud­ing Demo­crat­ic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, whose home state of North Dakota has seen a surge in oil pro­duc­tion in re­cent years.

Oil com­pan­ies are eager to take ad­vant­age of high­er prices of­ten avail­able on glob­al mar­kets, but many en­vir­on­ment­al­ists op­pose re­mov­ing the ban, ar­guing that it will worsen car­bon emis­sions by provid­ing a new cata­lyst for more oil pro­duc­tion.

In ex­change, Demo­crats got five-year ex­ten­sions for the wind-pro­duc­tion tax cred­it and the sol­ar-in­vest­ment tax cred­it. The le­gis­la­tion will also shore up health be­ne­fits to 9/11 first re­spon­ders, ex­tend­ing the vic­tims’ com­pens­a­tion fund for five years with $4.6 bil­lion, and a health fund through 2090, ac­cord­ing to a seni­or Demo­crat­ic aide.

Still, Demo­crat­ic lead­ers said they are wait­ing un­til the deal is inked to re­com­mend a vote to their caucus. House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi told re­port­ers earli­er Tues­day even­ing that she was wait­ing to see ex­actly how the deal is struc­tured.

“Un­til you see in writ­ing what all of this is, you really can’t make any com­ment or any com­mit­ment about it. So, we’ll see,” Pelosi said.

Con­gress will likely pass an­oth­er short-term con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion in or­der to avoid a gov­ern­ment shut­down and give mem­bers time to study the le­gis­la­tion. The Sen­ate could take longer to pass the bill if any sen­at­or ob­jects to con­sid­er­a­tion, but GOP lead­ers in the cham­ber were hop­ing the com­ing Christ­mas break would in­centiv­ize mem­bers to co­oper­ate.

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