It’s déjà vu all over again in the House of Representatives, as leaders are once again scrambling at the last minute to shore up votes for a $1 trillion spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.
While the White House says that President Obama will sign the bill if it is passed, liberal Democrats have viewed it skeptically. A key sticking point is that the bill would loosen regulations on Wall Street firms that were implemented in the Dodd-Frank reforms following the financial crisis of 2008.
Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took to the House floor to attack both Obama and congressional Republicans for supporting the bill.
“I’m enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this,” she said. “That would be the only reason I think they would say they would sign such a bill.”
On Thursday evening, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough joined a meeting of House Democrats at the Capitol in a bid for support as the clock continued to tick down to midnight, when current spending authorization will run out and the government will be forced to shut down without a new bill.
“A lot of us felt blindsided by [McDonough] being there,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) told The Guardian after the meeting.
Boehner spox: "We still expect a vote tonight." But he wouldn't say on what
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) December 12, 2014
Congressional Democrats seemed entirely unwilling to compromise on Thursday night, despite the president’s attempt to corral support.
Juice WH has with Hill Dems seems damn close to zero
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) December 12, 2014
Whistling and applause coming from House Dems caucus room. #CRomnibus
— Michael Mathes (@MichaelMathes) December 12, 2014
Last year’s shutdown was driven by tea party Republicans, who refused to go along with party leaders and instead made an ill-fated attempt to press for changes in (or, quixotically, a repeal of) the Affordable Care Act.
Although the White House is pushing for support from fellow Democrats, it has also made clear that it does not agree with everything in the 1,603-page bill.
“Republicans have taken a look at this legislation and identified things in that bill that they think are good for the country,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “We do have a disagreement about them, but we can’t allow a disagreement over one thing to be a deal-breaker over all the others.”
The Hill reported that while the administration is still optimistic that a deal will get done before midnight, the Office of Management and Budget is preparing for a possible government shutdown should the spending bill not be passed in time.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are working with agencies and taking steps to prepare for all contingencies, including a potential lapse in funding,” an OMB official said in a statement.[photo credit: Stephen D. Melkisethian]