House Speaker Paul Ryan holds an end-of-the-year press conference Thursday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan holds an end-of-the-year press conference Thursday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

It's Official: There Won't Be a Government Shutdown

Congress easily clears massive omnibus spending bill, and Obama signs it.

This story has been updated. 

In con­vin­cing bi­par­tis­an votes, the House and Sen­ate have passed an om­ni­bus to keep the gov­ern­ment fun­ded and a massive pack­age of tax break ex­ten­sions, wrap­ping up a tu­mul­tu­ous year with a deal that left neither Re­pub­lic­ans nor Demo­crats gloat­ing. Pres­id­ent Obama signed the measures Friday. 

Hav­ing already passed the tax meas­ure, the House ap­proved the om­ni­bus pack­age Fri­day on a 316-113 vote, with 150 Re­pub­lic­ans and 166 Demo­crats in the “aye” column. The Sen­ate then cleared the two meas­ures to­geth­er on a 65-33 tally. 

Both Speak­er Paul Ry­an and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi were hes­it­ant to claim vic­tory in the deal, due to hard-liners in both parties who are dis­sat­is­fied with its pro­vi­sions—or some that got left out. The biggest stick­ing point for Re­pub­lic­ans is that the bill did noth­ing to block the flow of refugees com­ing from Syr­ia, which they view as a na­tion­al se­cur­ity con­cern. The bill like­wise does noth­ing to tar­get Planned Par­ent­hood, an­oth­er GOP pri­or­ity.

In ad­di­tion, many on the right are up­set that the om­ni­bus raises spend­ing from earli­er se­quest­ra­tion levels, though the fund­ing num­bers are the product of a budget deal passed by former Speak­er John Boehner with the sup­port of only 79 Re­pub­lic­ans. Ry­an main­tains he was locked in­to those spend­ing fig­ures, and his caucus seems in­clined to give him a pass.

On the Demo­crat­ic side, many were con­cerned the om­ni­bus lif­ted the ban on crude oil ex­ports, a pro­vi­sion Pelosi called her “big tor­ment” as she made her de­cision. (Still, Pelosi and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion made the case that the over­all pack­age, when com­bined with the tax ex­tenders le­gis­la­tion, was a win for the en­vir­on­ment.)  The om­ni­bus also did noth­ing to ad­dress the Pu­erto Ric­an debt crisis, something many Demo­crats had pushed for.

Pelosi ul­ti­mately sup­por­ted the bill, but she faced an un­usu­al amount of back­lash from a caucus that has his­tor­ic­ally fol­lowed her march­ing or­ders. Sev­er­al Demo­crat­ic minor­ity caucuses, as well as pro­gress­ives, claimed they and their pri­or­it­ies were not heard in ne­go­ti­ations. Lead­ing up to the vote, the Demo­crat­ic ma­jor­ity that has so of­ten been needed to pass fund­ing bills was still in doubt.

The back­lash car­ries im­plic­a­tions for 2016, as Re­pub­lic­ans ex­pect more wins from their new Speak­er and Demo­crats try to con­vince their own lead­er­ship to stop mak­ing con­ces­sions to the GOP. For now, both lead­ers will be happy to take the nar­row vic­tory and head home for the hol­i­days.

“This is a really big win for Speak­er Ry­an and the new ap­proach that he’s laid out,” Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scal­ise said after the vote. “Sixty per­cent of our con­fer­ence voted for this bill, which is his­tor­ic, and it really puts us in a strong po­s­i­tion next year to have more lever­age for the fights that will start very early in the new year.”

The vote is a drastic turn­around from not only last month, when just 79 Re­pub­lic­ans sup­por­ted a bi­par­tis­an budget deal set­ting up the om­ni­bus, but also from Thursday, when sev­er­al groups of mem­bers were threat­en­ing to vote against the bill be­cause it did not achieve their pri­or­it­ies. For in­stance, mem­bers look­ing to roll back coal reg­u­la­tions and oth­er en­vir­on­ment­al rules were frus­trated by the few wins to that aim. But lead­ers re­as­sured them they would con­tin­ue those fights next year.  

“We saw a lot of mem­bers com­ing to that point today where they real­ized it strengthens our team if they vote for bills that they think need to pass,” Scal­ise said. “We had some im­port­ant wins in this bill. There are oth­er battles we’re go­ing to fight on next year that wer­en’t in this bill, but we have a com­mit­ment from the Speak­er to bring those to the floor and to have a strengthened hand when we bring those to the floor.”  

Lead­ers, in­clud­ing Ry­an, met throughout the day with groups such as the West­ern Caucus and the Geor­gia and Texas del­eg­a­tions to smooth in­di­vidu­al is­sues. And lead­ers spent the rest of the even­ing un­til about 1 a.m. call­ing and tex­ting mem­bers to make sure they would sup­port the om­ni­bus, Scal­ise said.

In ad­di­tion to re­as­sur­ances on pet is­sues, mem­bers were con­vinced by Sen­ate as­sur­ances. Ry­an told mem­bers Minor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id pledged not to block ap­pro­pri­ations bills without cause next year, pledging mem­bers a re­turn to reg­u­lar or­der. And Scal­ise handed out to mem­bers a let­ter from Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell prom­ising the lead­er would bring up sought after le­gis­la­tion en­for­cing tough­er im­mig­ra­tion re­stric­tions on Syr­i­an refugees.

For all the blow­back and un­cer­tainty among their ranks Thursday, House Demo­crat­ic lead­ers said after the vote they had been hood­wink­ing the GOP all along. “We wanted this bill to be bi­par­tis­an, so we didn’t brag too much about what was in it too soon to lose the Re­pub­lic­an votes,” said Pelosi, call­ing it the “best pos­sible un­der the cir­cum­stances.”

Rep. Steve Is­rael, Demo­crats’ mes­saging chief and a Pelosi loy­al­ist, ad­ded: “We began with a bill that had all the bad stuff in and all the good stuff out, and we ended up with a bill today that has all the good stuff in and most of the bad stuff out. That’s the defin­i­tion of vic­tory.”

Hoy­er as­ser­ted that Demo­crats got “90 per­cent” of what they wanted. Even many of the bill’s biggest de­tract­ors seemed to have been as­suaged. Reps. G.K. But­ter­field, Judy Chu and Linda Sanc­hez, who chair the three minor­ity caucuses that con­fron­ted Pelosi earli­er this week about be­ing left out of ne­go­ti­ations, all voted in fa­vor of the bill. Pelosi and As­sist­ant Demo­crat­ic Lead­er Jim Cly­burn were heard not­ing after the press con­fer­ence that 39 of the 44 Con­gres­sion­al Black Caucus mem­bers voted for the bill.

This came a day after Pelosi re­spon­ded with a flat “no” when asked if she was con­fid­ent her caucus would get the om­ni­bus through. Like­wise, Hoy­er had been reti­cent to es­tim­ate the vote total, and mem­bers of his whip team re­por­ted an over­whelm­ing num­ber of un­de­cided mem­bers. Ul­ti­mately, though, most Demo­crats got on board.

Key to the Democratic support was an extension of tax credits for renewable energy, which Pelosi said offsets by more than 10 times the emissions caused by the crude oil provision. Meanwhile, representatives from New York took a victory lap on the reauthorization of health care funding for 9/11 first responders. 

And leaders were keen to point out all the GOP riders they had kept out of the bill, including Planned Parenthood and Syrian refugee amendments. Pelosi characterized Republicans' biggest win, the crude oil provision, as a worthy sacrifice to avoid concessions elsewhere. "The Republicans' obsession with lifting the oil export ban -- they really gave away the store," she said. "Democrats were able to strip scores and scores of poison pills." 

Pelosi's allies praised that strategy. "I've never witnessed the Democratic leadership exploit more effectively the leverage that they had," said Rep. Joe Crowley, vice chair of the Democratic Caucus. 

Rep. Donna Edwards said she had been leaning no even on Friday morning, but leadership's explanation of the bill -- particularly its benefits for CBC communities -- changed her vote. "It became incredibly clear that this list of wins outweighs the negatives," she said. 

The 2,000-plus page tax and spend­ing pack­age touches on nearly every as­pect of Amer­ic­an life. The earned-in­come, child and col­lege tu­ition tax breaks were made per­man­ent, as were those for re­search and de­vel­op­ment, mass trans­it com­muters, and for res­id­ents who live in state in­come tax-free places like Nevada and Texas, who want to de­duct sales taxes from their fed­er­al re­turns. The pack­age will be­ne­fit large cor­por­a­tions keen on de­fer­ring cer­tain in­come earned over­seas and small busi­nesses, which can now in­def­in­itely ex­pense up to $500,000 of equip­ment.

The deal will make the most sig­ni­fic­ant changes to Obama­care since it passed, in part by re­mov­ing im­port­ant ways in which it was paid-for. It’ll be­ne­fit uni­ons and large em­ploy­ers by delay­ing for an­oth­er two years the so-called Ca­dillac Tax on the most ex­pens­ive health care plans. It’ll put off a way to pay for the land­mark health care bill by sus­pend­ing for two years a tax on the med­ic­al device in­dustry. And it’ll sta­bil­ize premi­ums in the near term by sus­pend­ing a health in­sur­ance tax for a year, after Re­pub­lic­ans suc­ceeded in block­ing tax­pay­er fund­ing for a pro­gram that would shore up in­surers from losses.

The deal is chock-full with good­ies, be­ne­fit­ing those near and dear to Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic law­makers, from Sen. Chuck Schu­mer’s New York apple cider pro­du­cers to Sen. Mitch Mc­Con­nell’s Ken­tucky race­horses, ac­cord­ing to the New York Times. Even those Alaskans wary of ge­net­ic­ally mod­i­fied sal­mon—also known as Franken­fish—can find com­fort; their sale was blocked un­til fed­er­al la­beling guidelines are fin­ished due to the work of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Be­fore the Sen­ate vote, the mem­bers de­bated, with some tout­ing the tax breaks for fam­il­ies and low-in­come work­ers while oth­ers noted the $622 bil­lion hole Con­gress will add to the de­fi­cit in the com­ing years.

Not­ing Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Gen­er­a­tion,” West Vir­gin­ia Sen. Joe Manchin said on the Sen­ate floor Fri­day, “We’re go­ing to be the worst gen­er­a­tion by sad­dling this debt to our grand­chil­dren.”

Then Ore­gon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Demo­crat on the Fin­ance Com­mit­tee, took to the floor and countered. “This bi­par­tis­an pack­age is the biggest tax cut for work­ing fam­il­ies and the biggest an­ti­poverty plan Con­gress has moved for­ward in dec­ades—and it is the biggest tax agree­ment in 15 years,” he said.

Sens. Bar­bara Box­er and Marco Ru­bio were the only mem­bers to miss the Sen­ate’s votes Fri­day to pass the om­ni­bus and tax bills, the cham­ber’s fi­nal votes for the year. (Box­er’s of­fice said she had an “un­avoid­able schedul­ing con­flict” but offered to re­turn to Wash­ing­ton if her vote was needed.) Ru­bio has been cri­ti­cized by his Re­pub­lic­an op­pon­ents for pres­id­ent for miss­ing more votes than any oth­er pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate this year and cam­paigned this week in Iowa ahead of an event sched­uled in Joplin, Mis­souri, this af­ter­noon.

Ru­bio told Fox News on Thursday that he strongly op­posed the om­ni­bus, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of its cost and its fail­ure to deal with the Syr­i­an refugee crisis. But he ar­gued that mem­bers could “slow it down,” po­ten­tially for­cing mem­bers to stay in Wash­ing­ton long enough to earn some con­ces­sions on con­ser­vat­ive pri­or­it­ies.

“We can most cer­tainly slow down this pro­cess and force them to go back and make changes to it. There is no doubt that we can and we should and will,” Ru­bio told Fox News Thursday. “There is an ef­fort with many con­ser­vat­ives in the Sen­ate and in the House to make it hap­pen. You can slow this down. There is a way to do it. I think the ques­tion is wheth­er the will­ing­ness is there. … We should use every pro­ced­ur­al as­pect that we have to slow it down and per­haps force some changes.”

Ru­bio’s ap­pear­ance on the con­ser­vat­ive news chan­nel came on the same day that Sen­ate lead­er­ship an­nounced a un­an­im­ous agree­ment of all sen­at­ors to move for­ward with a quick series of four votes on the om­ni­bus and tax pack­ages on Fri­day. Ru­bio spent the day in Iowa Thursday and missed those votes Fri­day morn­ing.