Democrats vow to thwart emerging Republican budget plan

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 25, 2014 7:25 PM

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in Congress on Tuesday vowed to reject an emerging Republican effort to split immigration-related funding from a full-year government spending bill that avoids a government shutdown.

The plan, being pushed by some conservative Republicans including incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, would provide a short-term funding extension only for immigration agencies as a way to exert leverage against President Barack Obama's immigration order last week. Everything else would get normal full-year funding via an "omnibus" spending bill, Republican aides said.

Congress needs to approve new spending authority for federal agencies and discretionary programs by Dec. 11 to avoid another government shutdown.

The plan aims to satisfy conflicting Republican priorities of providing stable government funding and a desire to try to stop the Obama administration from granting permission to some 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the United States.

A short-term extension for immigration-related agencies would allow Republicans to deny funds to these agencies next year when they control both the Senate and House of Representatives. The primary agency for processing immigrant residency applications, however, is funded through fee collections.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said that Republican leaders have made no decisions on how to proceed with a spending bill. Congress will take these decisions up when it returns to Washington on Dec. 8.

Staff for the House and Senate Appropriations committees are continuing negotiations on the full-year omnibus spending bill for all agencies, aiming for a House vote the week of Dec. 8, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats would not support any bill that provides long-term funding to some agencies and short-term "continuing resolution," or CR, for others. The concoction has taken on the "CRomnibus" moniker.

"House Republicans are seeking to disguise their efforts, threatening our national security in order to undermine the president’s clear legal authority," Pelosi said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "We will not be enablers to a Republican government shutdown, partial or otherwise."

A Senate Democratic aide said that Senate appropriators are not discussing any such move, adding: "As far as we're concerned, this is not on the table."

(Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)