Republican attempts to cobble together a comprehensive $1.2 trillion spending bill remained stalled Tuesday, pushing House and Senate votes on the package closer to a deadline at the end of the work week to keep the government operating.
Lawmakers, who’ve had more than a month to work out the details of a budget agreement aimed at ending a cycle of stopgap measures, blew past another target to finish their work as disagreements persisted over immigration, border security, tax breaks and a tunnel under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey.
Current government funding expires at the end of the day Friday. House Republicans emerged from a morning meeting saying a vote in the House had been pushed to Thursday.
John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican, told reporters a short-term stopgap spending measure may be needed to allow the Senate to vote on the bill over the weekend. Any disruption in the process risks triggering a temporary shutdown of government operations.
“We’ll be here this weekend,” he said. “We’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the lights on.”
Wall and Tunnel
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told his colleagues that decisions still hadn’t been made on whether to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall or to provide $900 million for the Hudson rail project, known as Gateway, which Trump opposes. Ryan said he hopes to release the thousand-page piece of legislation before midnight Tuesday night.
“What will it take to get this done? Exhaustion,” said Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma told reporters there are 20 to 30 policy disagreements still to be resolved before the new deadline to release the text of the bill.
New York Democratic Representative Nita Lowey accused Republicans of trying to add in multiple provisions that they know will be rejected by Democrats. “They could just drop all their poison pills and we can get on with it,” she said.
Lowey said she is concerned that funding for the Hudson River project may be left out of the bill even though House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, is one of the lawmakers pushing to finance it.
Peter King, a New York Republican who also supports the Gateway project, said the issue is still being worked on.
Congress has been at loggerheads with the White House over Gateway, which would provide a crucial rail link between New York and New Jersey. The project would supplement a decaying century-old tunnel damaged by saltwater flooding from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That tunnel provides the only direct train link between New Jersey and Manhattan for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, and helps bind the entire Northeast corridor to the New York area.
Trump has told Ryan and other lawmakers he doesn’t want it in the spending bill. His objection is in part because New York’s Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, had held up the nomination of several of Trump’s nominees, according to people familiar with the president’s thinking on the issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also is known to have reservations about sinking a lot of money into the project.