WASHINGTON Jan 6 Negotiations over a $1
trillion U.S. spending bill to implement last month's budget
deal were snagged on some partisan policy disputes on Monday,
just days before another government shutdown deadline on Jan.
15, according to congressional aides.
A Senate Democratic aide said Republicans in the House of
Representatives were insisting on including policy language
aimed at restricting abortions, as well as prohibiting the
Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon
A spokeswoman for Republican House Appropriations Committee
Chairman Hal Rogers declined to comment on specific issues in
the negotiations, which have been underway for nearly three
It was unclear whether any of the remaining policy
differences would cause a breakdown in talks to carve up the
$1.012 trillion in spending on government agencies and
discretionary programs for fiscal 2014.
At this point, Democratic and Republican aides said
appropriators have not discussed any plans for an alternative
stop-gap funding measure known as a "continuing resolution" -
even one as short as a few days to avoid a repetition of the
16-day government agency shutdown in October.
"They're not even talking about that. It indicates that
their full energies are being put into meeting the deadline, not
a fallback plan," a House Democratic aide said.
The two-year budget deal, signed into law on Dec. 26 by
President Barack Obama, provides modest relief from automatic
"sequester" spending cuts this year, allowing the appropriations
committees to carve up an additional $45 billion for government
agencies and programs ranging from national parks to the
The increased near-term spending, $63 billion over two
years, is more than offset by $85 billion in longer-term savings
from cuts to military and federal worker pensions, increased
airport security fees for passengers and other savings.
Other sources of friction in the negotiations have included
Republican opposition to funding increases for "Obamacare"
health insurance reforms and funding for controversial high
speed rail projects in California.
Appropriations committee staff worked through the Christmas
and New Year holidays to prepare a bill that could pass both the
House and Senate before funding runs out again on Jan. 15 and
made "a lot of progress," said Vincent Morris, a spokesman for
Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, a
"We definitely hope to arrive at an agreement this week,"
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday he was
"afraid" that House Republicans would derail the spending bill.
"Two thirds of the people in the House of Representatives
are Republicans who voted to close the government, keep it
closed more than 16 days and default on our debt," Reid told
CBS' Face the Nation program.
"I mean, I want this to pass. I hope it does. It should,
that we have an omnibus appropriations bill. But I don't know."
The budget deal, however, passed on a strong bipartisan vote
of 332-94 in the House.
The spending bill will be followed in a few months by
another, more consequential fiscal deadline, when Congress needs
to approve another increase in the federal debt limit, likely by
March or April. Failure to do so could eventually mean a
damaging default on U.S. debt payments, throwing global
financial markets into turmoil.
Heritage Action, an influential conservative group that
opposed the December budget deal, urged Republican lawmakers on
Monday to stand firm on conservative policy provisions in the
"While the budget number represents a spending limit,
meaning Congress can (and should) spend well below that number
in upcoming appropriations, there are policy provisions the
House should be demanding in negotiations right now as part of
any omnibus package of appropriations bills regardless of the
ultimate top-line number," the group said in a blog posting on