Late Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told his caucus that congressional leaders have reached agreement on a $1.15 trillion package to fund the federal government in fiscal 2016. The House is expected to vote on the legislation, and a paired tax bill, on Thursday, and the Senate could clear the combined bills on Friday, avoiding a government shutdown and allowing lawmakers to go home for Christmas break. Democrats are still looking over the deal and haven't said if they will support it, but Ryan sounded confident that the package will pass.
"We didn't win everything we wanted," Ryan said on Fox News. "Democrats got some things they wanted. So that's the nature of compromises in divided government. But all told, we'll make sure that we keep government funded and that we advance some of our priorities." Details weren't released as of midnight Wednesday, but the bills are expected to extend billions of dollars worth of tax breaks, delay some taxes designed to pay for expanded ObamaCare coverage, and, in a win for Republicans and oil companies, end a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.
Democratic leaders said they have been told the package includes virtually no policy riders sought by Republicans, including stripping federal funding for Planned Parenthood or barring refugees from Syria and Iraq. It does reportedly include some new restrictions on visitors from 38 friendly nations whose citizens have been able to come to the U.S. without visas, blocking any who have traveled to Syria, Sudan, Iraq, or Iran in the past five years.
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is said to be opposed to the package because of the corporate-tilted tax breaks and the lifting of the oil export ban, imposed after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Companies can already ship refined fuel abroad, but lifting the ban would allow oil drillers to send crude outside of the U.S. to be refined, potentially raising the price of gas inside the U.S. Democrats did win one concession, a five-year extension of tax credits for wind and solar energy. "We've made it clear that if they want this oil export ban, there must be included in this policies to reduce our carbon emissions and encourage use of renewable energy," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday morning.
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