* Massive spending measure offers both parties some wins,
* House vote scheduled on Wednesday; stop-gap approved in
* Conservative groups urge rejection over increased spending
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, Jan 14 Republicans in the U.S. House
of Representatives voiced tentative support on Tuesday for a
$1.1 trillion spending bill, signaling likely passage and
removing one source of potential drama ahead of the 2014
The 1,582-page measure provides a $45 billion increase in
military and domestic spending to ease automatic "sequester"
budget cuts and about $85 billion in Afghanistan war funding
this fiscal year.
It is scheduled for a vote in the Republican-controlled
House on Wednesday, and consideration later this week by the
The House on Tuesday approved by voice vote a stop-gap
measure to extend current funding for three days past a midnight
Wednesday deadline to allow more time for passage of the
"omnibus" spending bill.
Enactment will eliminate through Sept. 30 the threat of
another government shutdown like the 16-day standoff in October
that caused the public's opinion of Congress to plumb new depths
The bill adds funding for some Democratic priorities such as
a $1 billion increase in the Head Start pre-school education
program for the poor, but Republicans scored a partial victory
when negotiators denied a funding increase for implementation of
"Obamacare" health insurance reforms.
Republicans also succeeded in denying funds for high-speed
rail projects and for International Monetary Fund reforms
. The bill also contains a provision to ensure
that the government can continue efforts to dispose of nuclear
waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Republicans won a provision blocking the Department of
Energy from enforcing a phase-out of less-efficient incandescent
light bulbs, but Democrats beat back their attempt to prohibit
the Environmental Protection Agency from enacting new
regulations on carbon emissions.
"It's not a perfect bill from either side, but I think it's
a bill that the president can live with and that Republicans and
Democrats can also live with," said Republican Representative
Darrell Issa of California.
He predicted that measure would get a "large majority" of
Republicans, as well as a majority of Democrats. He added that
it was important to settle government funding to avoid it
becoming a campaign issue in this year's congressional
Republican Representative Tim Griffin, a conservative with
Tea Party backing from Arkansas, said the bill represents "solid
progress" on reducing discretionary spending. He said it should
win support from many conservatives because the overall spending
level is lower than at the end of the Bush administration in
2008 and below the levels called for in last year's Republican
budget plan from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
But influential conservative groups including the Heritage
Foundation and Club for Growth wasted no time in urging
lawmakers to oppose the spending bill, citing continued funding
for Obamacare and other programs they regard as wasteful.
"Instead of finding bipartisan ways to spend more money,
Congress should be focused on cutting spending so that the
federal budget can be balanced as quickly as possible," Club for
Growth said in a statement.
The second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny
Hoyer, said he would support the spending bill despite concerns
over inadequate funding.
While it's better than the $967 billion level that was
slated under the sequester cuts, the $1.012 trillion in non-war
spending is "less than necessary to grow our economy," Hoyer
The White House said it would support passage of the measure
because it would help boost the economy.
Among provisions touted by both parties, the spending bill
reverses a pension benefit cut for disabled veterans that
lawmakers said was mistakenly included in a previous budget
deal. It also provides a $417 million boost to wildland
DEBT LIMIT LOOMS
Passage of the spending bill would leave Congress just one
major fiscal hurdle for the next nine months, an increase in the
federal debt limit that is expected to be needed by March or
April to avoid a damaging default on U.S. debt.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said that Republicans have
made no decisions on how to approach the debt limit, which
Republicans have used as a bargaining chip to demand further
Last October, disputes over Obamacare funding were also
thrown into the debt limit fight, which coincided with a 16-day
government shutdown. Resolution of the shutdown helped pave the
way for the December budget deal and the spending bill.
"We have to deal with the debt ceiling here in the coming
months and no decisions have been made about how we're going to
proceed but I'm encouraged that we are going to proceed,"
Boehner told a news briefing. "No one wants to default on our