Deadline Day: Congress wrestles over huge spending bill - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Deadline Day: Congress wrestles over huge spending bill

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BY CARRIE DANN AND LUKE RUSSERT, NBC News

(NBC News) - With the clock ticking towards a midnight deadline to keep the government open, GOP leaders say they're still confident that a massive spending bill will narrowly pass in the House Thursday despite defections on both sides of the aisle.

"I expect this bill will receive bipartisan support and pass," House Speaker John Boehner predicted at a news conference Thursday.

The $1.01 trillion spending bill has raised objections from conservative Republicans - who say it doesn't do enough to halt the president's executive action on immigration - and some Democrats, who don't like last-minute banking and campaign finance changes inserted into the legislation by bipartisan negotiators.

The House is set for a 2pm ET vote on the measure. Republicans will need a boost of Democratic support to get the bill over the finish line - a tall order just one day after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said publicly that she is "deeply troubled" by the proposal. Earlier Thursday, Rep. Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said that she is "increasingly optimistic" that Democrats will "stand up" against the legislation's changes to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which she says would expose taxpayers to liability for reckless banking practices.

But Democrats who support the overall bill say that it allows them to make a substantial impact on spending for the next fiscal year, which a short-term backup bill would not do because Republicans will control both chambers of Congress come January.

Aides say that defections on the Republican side could number from 40-80, so about 60-70 Democratic votes will be needed to reach the 218 required for House passage.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California told NBC News Thursday morning that he expects Republicans will be "fine" and able to muster enough votes.

If House leaders cannot reach the 218 tally, they will push a temporary backup bill punting the spending question into next year - when Republicans will have even more control due to November's big midterm election gains.

"We expect the bill to pass with bipartisan support today, but if it does not, we will pass a short-term CR to avoid a government shutdown," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. "The length and other details of that bill have not been determined."

If the measure succeeds in the House, it must still be passed by the Senate before 11:59pm Thursday to avoid a lapse in government funding. That could be procedurally easy - but only if no member objects to its passage.

If even a single senator holds up the process, it could drag on for days. But aides have also discussed quick passage of a two or three-day extension of the funding deadline in order to give lawmakers more time to pass the larger bill.

Here's a brief summary of what's in the massive spending bill:
  • Funding until September 2015 for 11 of 12 federal agencies. The Department of Homeland Security is only funded until early next year, setting up another spending fight over immigration in just a few weeks
  • No new funding for the Affordable Care Act, but funding for the health care law is also not cut
  • $5.4 million to fight Ebola abroad and prepare for potential outbreaks at home
  • Changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking reform bill concerning derivatives trading - lobbied for heavily by the banking industry
  • Language prohibiting the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana, which city residents greenlighted in a November ballot initiative by a wide margin
  • Language raising donation limits to the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee from $32,400 per donor to $324,000
  • About $8 billion in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, a substantial cut from last year's funding that will likely force a hefty reduction in staffing
  • $5 billion to fight the Islamic militant group known as ISIS
  • A ban on the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States
  • Funding to aid the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Service and local school districts in immigration-related programs
  • A cut of almost $350 million to the budget of the IRS
  • Cuts to multi-employer pension plans
  • Language allowing school districts more flexibility in instituting the nutrition standards championed by Michelle Obama
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