Congress Weighs Adding Terrorism Insurance to Spending Plan

Congressional negotiators plan today to release a bipartisan U.S. government spending proposal, just days before current funding ends, after resolving disputes over Republican policy proposals.

The House and Senate intend to vote on the legislation this week before leaving Washington for the year. Current government funding is set to end Dec. 11.

House and Senate appropriators agree on government funding levels, and leaders were in talks over whether to add unrelated policy measures to the bill, Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, told reporters yesterday.

Those included renewal of a program to help insure property against the threat of terrorism, he said.

Republicans also have proposed repealing part of the Dodd- Frank financial-services law to allow more swaps trading at banks that have federal insurance, and rolling back safety rules intended to ensure that truck drivers get enough rest. Democrats opposed Republican attempts to reduce standards for school lunches and Clean Air Act rules.

Even if the provisions remain in the House bill, Senate Democrats have been discussing ways to strip them out once the legislation lands in the Democratic-led chamber.

While the spending bill would fund most of the U.S. government through September 2015, the Department of Homeland Security would be financed only through February, said a House aide who sought anonymity to discuss the private talks.

Immigration Orders

Republicans seek to use a funding debate over the agency responsible for immigration to roll back President Barack Obama’s Nov. 20 action easing deportation for undocumented immigrants. Republicans will control the Senate and House of Representatives starting in January.

“In the new year, when we have a new and accountable Congress and Senate, we should take action to stop the president from going forward with issuing 5 million new work permits and taxpayer identification numbers to illegal immigrants,” Senator-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas said yesterday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

An agreement on the $1.1 trillion spending bill would be a victory for Republican leaders seeking to clear the agenda to advance other items next year. Democrats are confident the final deal won’t include the Republican proposals they find most objectionable, said a Senate Democratic aide.

House and Senate Appropriations leaders Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland worked over the weekend on the spending plan.

Lawmakers overcame the biggest risk to the spending bill last week as House Speaker John Boehner rejected Tea Party Republicans’ insistence on using it to defund Obama’s immigration orders. Instead, on Dec. 4 Boehner let members vent with a symbolic vote disapproving of Obama’s immigration orders.

Democratic votes probably will be needed for House passage as the spending measure is opposed by some Republicans who wanted to force a confrontation on immigration this month.

–With assistance from Kathleen Hunter, Kathleen Miller, Cheyenne Hopkins and Jeff Plungis in Washington.