Washington is waiting for the “cromnibus”

Several disagreements are holding up the final fiscal year 2015 spending bill.

The Dec. 11 deadline, when the current temporary spending bill for the federal government expires, is rapidly approaching, and appropriations negotiators from the House and Senate are hard at work trying to resolve some outstanding issues. Assuming those issues can be resolved, the text of the bill may appear later today, Dec. 9.

Appropriators are wrapping up negotiations on a hybrid bill — CR /omnibus, or “cromnibus” — that will include 11 of the 12 appropriations bills. Funding for the 12th bill, Homeland Security, will be passed as a continuing resolution. The reason is that Republican leadership in the House and Senate wanted to re-examine the immigration portion of the Homeland Security bill in light of President Obama's recent executive order suspending deportations of undocumented persons who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Remaining disagreements concern policy rather than funding issues. Given that the bill will be one of the last bills to pass in the 113th Congress, some members hope to attach their legislation to the bill.

These outside issues include a reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and rules about how much rest long-haul truckers must get. (Senate Republicans have inserted an amendment that would postpone the pending rule, which would require truckers to take 34 hours off between workweeks, including at least two nights). Another sticking point is a campaign finance provision championed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that would eliminate the current restriction against coordination of spending between candidates and outside groups.

Depending on how long the resolution of these issues takes, lawmakers may need to pass a short-term bill, valid for only a few days, to allow time to finish the final bill. Odds of a government shutdown appear very low, with all leadership teams supporting a resolution.