Ryan: Agreement on spending bill


WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders and the White House have reached agreement on a massive year-end tax and spending package, House Speaker Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers late Tuesday, urging support for the legislation that delivers GOP wins but also includes many Democratic priorities.

The package would fund the government through the 2016 budget year, raise domestic and defense spending, and increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars by extending numerous popular tax credits without paying for them. It lifts the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude, a long-sought GOP goal, and delays two taxes meant to pay for President Barack Obama’s health care law, one on high-value health plans and the other on medical devices.

Democrats won five-year extensions of wind and solar credits and a permanent extension of the child care tax credit, and beat back many GOP attempts to add favored policy provisions to the bill, including several aimed at rolling back Obama environmental regulations.

“This is divided government,” Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said coming out of the meeting. “If you’re going to move forward and follow Speaker Ryan’s notion that we move onto offense next year … Let’s put 2015 behind us and move onto 2016.”

Ryan “said that in a divided government you’re going to have some concessions, that’s what compromise is about,” added Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin. “And to get the good things that we felt we needed, that meant the Democrats were going to get some of the things they wanted.”

Democratic aides cautioned final language was still being worked out.

Republican leaders predicted the package would come to a vote in the House and Senate on Thursday, allowing lawmakers to head home for the holidays having completed their needed tasks. First they will have to pass yet another short-term government funding extension, since the current one runs out Wednesday at midnight.

Eleventh-hour negotiations twisted and turned on the mammoth deal pairing the $1.1 trillion spending legislation with a giant tax bill catering to any number of special interests. The deal, Congress’ last major piece of unfinished business for the year, became the vehicle for countless long-sought priorities and odds and ends, including reform of visa-free travel to the U.S., renewable energy tax credits and health benefits for 9/11 first responders.