House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) and Speaker Paul Ryan leave a press conference after a GOP caucus meeting.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) and Speaker Paul Ryan leave a press conference after a GOP caucus meeting. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Talks to Avoid a Shutdown Will Drag on Another Week

Congress will approve another short-term spending bill to give negotiators on omnibus and tax packages more time.

The House will vote on a short-term fund­ing bill Fri­day morn­ing that will keep the gov­ern­ment open through Decem­ber 16, giv­ing ne­go­ti­at­ors time to strike a wide-ran­ging agree­ment on tax and spend­ing policy and avoid­ing a rare week­end ses­sion.

“Votes are no longer ex­pec­ted in the House this week­end,” House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy told mem­bers on the House floor, to ap­plause. “You could ap­plaud louder,” he re­spon­ded.

While mem­bers will head back to their dis­tricts for the week­end, party lead­ers, ap­pro­pri­at­ors and their staff will con­tin­ue to work to fin­ish a $1.1 tril­lion spend­ing bill, which has been stalled largely over policy riders. The Wed­nes­day dead­line means the House can file a bill no later than Monday in or­der to stick to their prom­ise to give mem­bers three cal­en­dar days to re­view the bill be­fore a vote.

“While pro­gress is be­ing made on ne­go­ti­ations for a full-year om­ni­bus ap­pro­pri­ations bill, it is clear that more time is needed to com­plete the pack­age,” House Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­man Hal Ro­gers said in a state­ment. “This short-term fund­ing res­ol­u­tion will keep the lights on in gov­ern­ment and main­tain cur­rent op­er­a­tions for a few days so Con­gress can com­plete and pass an agree­ment. It is my hope and ex­pect­a­tion that a fi­nal, year-long bill will be en­acted be­fore this new dead­line.”

The Sen­ate will also need time to con­sider and pass any fi­nal deal. With the un­an­im­ous con­sent of all mem­bers, an om­ni­bus could be passed Wed­nes­day, but ab­sent an agree­ment the up­per cham­ber could re­quire nearly a week for full pas­sage, po­ten­tially ne­ces­sit­at­ing an­oth­er short-term CR. With the hol­i­days and the start of an elec­tion year fast ap­proach­ing, however, many mem­bers are eager to re­turn to their states and dis­tricts for a few-week re­cess.

Sev­er­al is­sues re­main un­settled. For one, Re­pub­lic­ans are still push­ing to in­clude the House-passed Syr­i­an refugee le­gis­la­tion in an om­ni­bus pack­age. That comes even though the House eas­ily passed a bill to tight­en the visa waiver sys­tem.

House Home­land Se­cur­ity Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mi­chael Mc­Caul said Wed­nes­day that he met with House lead­ers and they told him the refugee bill, which he sponsored, was still in the bill. He said the visa lan­guage would likely be ad­ded as well, but he is not sure his refugee le­gis­la­tion will ul­ti­mately make the cut.

“That’s def­in­itely go­ing to be on it. The ques­tion is about the Syr­i­an refugee bill,” he said. “As of now it’s on the om­ni­bus. Wheth­er it sur­vives the ne­go­ti­ations, I don’t know.”

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Whip John Cornyn said Tues­day that the Syr­i­an refugee is­sue would be handled in the om­ni­bus in one way or an­oth­er.

The fate of a massive pack­age of tax breaks re­mained un­cer­tain, as well. Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Kev­in Brady said he and party lead­ers are still de­cid­ing wheth­er to file a smal­ler scale two-year bill, and wheth­er to in­clude delays to two soon-to-be-en­acted Obama­care taxes on the smal­ler bill.

“Dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing. I’m very hope­ful we’re able to to the per­man­ent pack­age,” Brady said. “We just haven’t made a de­cision yet about go­ing to rules and hav­ing the two-year pack­age, or hav­ing the pause on device tax and Ca­dillac [tax].

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi has been in­sist­ent that ne­go­ti­at­ors in­dex the child tax cred­it to in­fla­tion, but Re­pub­lic­ans be­lieve that is a non-starter. Mean­while, ne­go­ti­at­ors are dis­cuss­ing wheth­er to lift the de facto ban on U.S. crude oil ex­ports through the year-end spend­ing and tax pack­age.

Demo­crats are de­mand­ing a suite of con­ces­sions in re­turn for hand­ing the oil in­dustry a win on one of its biggest lob­by­ing pri­or­it­ies, in­clud­ing long-term ex­ten­sion of re­new­able elec­tri­city pro­ject tax cred­its that have lapsed or will ex­pire in a year.

North Dakota Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Ho­even, who along with North Dakota Demo­crat­ic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is an out­spoken sup­port­er of ex­ports, said Wed­nes­day that he sees a “good chance” of reach­ing a deal.

Sen. Mar­tin Hein­rich, a New Mex­ico Demo­crat who has been in­volved in the talks, told re­port­ers in the Cap­it­ol that “there is a deal to be had here,” but noted Demo­crats want “long-term cer­tainty” on green power tax policy. They’re also seek­ing re­viv­al of a lapsed con­ser­va­tion pro­gram called the Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund.

The pro­spect of a year-end deal that opens the taps to crude oil ex­ports is dis­may­ing en­vir­on­ment­al­ists, who fear that al­low­ing pro­du­cers to tap in­to world mar­kets—where they can gen­er­ally fetch high­er prices—will be a ma­jor cata­lyst for even more do­mest­ic fossil fuel pro­duc­tion. They’re try­ing to block an ex­port deal, or, fail­ing at that, en­sure it has the strongest pro­vi­sions pos­sible on low-car­bon en­ergy.

Lob­by­ists with ma­jor en­vir­on­ment­al groups have been in the Cap­it­ol in re­cent days to lobby sen­at­ors.

It all could de­pend on wheth­er law­makers can cut a deal on a big tax pack­age that could be in the $800 bil­lion range, or de­fault to a short­er-term bill that ex­tends a series of busi­ness and per­son­al tax in­cent­ives for two years. “I think there is a good chance for ex­port ban re­peal if a lar­ger tax pack­age gets done. Don’t know how it hap­pens with just a two-year ex­ten­sion,” said one oil in­dustry lob­by­ist in an email.

Sarah Mimms contributed to this article.