The Latest: Republicans unveil temporary spending bill

AP News
Posted: Dec 06, 2016 7:56 PM
The Latest: Republicans unveil temporary spending bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

Republicans controlling Congress are proposing $10 billion in supplemental war funding and $4 billion more for disaster relief for Louisiana and other states as they unveil must-pass legislation to keep the government running into next spring.

The legislation would prevent the government from shutting down this weekend and buy several months for the new Congress and incoming Trump administration to wrap up more than $1 trillion worth of unfinished agency budget bills.

Democrats complained the GOP measure shortchanged New York City by giving it just $7 million to cover police overtime and other security costs for President-elect Donald Trump. And they complained that a provision to help retired Appalachian coal miners keep their health benefits for a few months was inadequate.


5:45 p.m.

The House has turned aside an effort by conservatives to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (KAHS'-kihn-ihn).

Conservatives have long wanted to remove Koskinen. They say he obstructed a congressional investigation into IRS mistreatment of tea party groups, charges that Koskinen has denied.

After agreeing to not force a vote on the issue during this year's political campaigns, conservatives renewed their effort Tuesday, days before Congress plans to adjourn for the year.

But the House voted 342-72 to refer the impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary Committee. That in effect will prevent a Senate impeachment trial and kill the effort for now because of Congress' upcoming adjournment.

Many Republicans opposed the effort. They say it would slow President-elect Donald Trump's agenda and let Democrats accuse the GOP of being relentlessly partisan.


5:01 p.m.

House conservatives are pushing to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Republicans launched the effort Tuesday with a government shutdown looming and other legislation pending.

Conservatives say Koskinen obstructed congressional investigations by lying, ignoring subpoenas and heading an agency that destroyed documentation.

Investigations by the Justice Department and the IRS' independent inspector general have found no evidence that Koskinen or the agency purposely destroyed evidence.

Koskinen's term runs until Nov. 12, 2017. He has said publicly he serves at the pleasure of the president — which suggests he'd leave if a president asked.


4:55 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has found a way to protect health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners whose benefits are set to expire at the end of the year.

But Democrats say the solution offered by the Kentucky Republican is only temporary and does not protect pension benefits that also are at risk. McConnell says he is working with House Speaker Paul Ryan to include money for miner's benefits in a temporary spending bill slated for a vote this week.

Democrats called the four-month fix inadequate. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he would block other bills on the Senate floor until miners get their full health care and pension money.

McConnell has blocked a vote on a bipartisan bill to protect miners' benefits.


2:42 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a resolution to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law will be the first item on the agenda when new Congress begins Jan. 3.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that scuttling the six-year-old law is the top priority. It's unclear what Republicans will come up with to replace the law. Since it was enacted in 2010, the GOP has been unable to coalesce around an alternative.

President-elect Donald Trump called for getting rid of the law during the campaign, but since then has favored keeping two popular elements — allowing children to remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26 and preventing companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.


1:36 p.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says it would be a terrible precedent to put expedited procedures for confirming President-elect Donald Trump's defense secretary pick in a stop-gap spending bill.

Congress has to change the law to allow retired Gen. James Mattis, to fill the civilian job. Mattis' nomination would then need Senate confirmation next year.

Republicans want to put fast-track steps to changing the law in the catchall spending bill Congress will vote on this week.

In a statement on Tuesday, Pelosi decried the move and said it was troubling that Republicans were working so hard to shield Trump's nominee from scrutiny and debate of Congress and the American people.


1:10 p.m.

House Democrats say Vice President Joe Biden told them to be more empathetic about the concerns of working-class Americans.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois said Biden told them at a closed-door meeting that if acknowledging people's feelings isn't in the first page of a speech, the speech is no good.

Biden said unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was a victim of sexism — at least in part. "He really thinks there's a double standard there" Schakowsky said.

Schakowsky said California Rep. Jackie Speier suggested Biden run for Democratic National Committee chair but Biden laughed it off. Other Democrats said there was no discussion of Biden running for president in 2020.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Biden "talked about our commitment to working people in this country."


11:20 a.m.

Vice President Joe Biden is joking about his own talk about seeking the presidency in 2020.

On his way into a meeting with House Democrats on Tuesday, Biden said "I'm going to announce right now" in response to shouted questions about whether he should be taken seriously about running again.

The 74-year-old vice president said Monday night that he would run, a comment he did walk back, but just a bit.

Biden said, "I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening."

Biden will turn 78 shortly after the 2020 election. Ronald Reagan was a few days short of 78 when he left office in January 1989, making him the oldest person to serve as president.

The vice president decided to not seek the White House in 2015 and instead backed this year's eventual Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.