- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The IRS takes a $300 million cut and the EPA’s staffing is reduced to levels not seen since the 1980s under the $1.1 trillion spending bill written by congressional negotiators, and which GOP leaders are pleading with their members to support ahead of key showdown votes this week.

House leaders hope those moves will keep Republicans in line behind the spending bill, which makes some dents in programs the GOP wanted to target, but does not cancel President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty, instead pushing that fight into next year.

“Without a threat of a government shutdown, this sets up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration when we have new majorities in both chambers of Congress,” House Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters after huddling with his fellow Republicans to try to sort out the strategy.

He is trying to thread a needle of winning enough Republicans and Democrats to get the bill passed over the objections of conservatives who wanted the immigration fight this year.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said there are two provisions she cannot stomach, including one that would alter the rules for treatment of financial derivatives and another that would raise the cap on donations from individuals to political parties.

“These provisions are destructive to middle class families and to the practice of our democracy. We must get them out of the omnibus package,” she said.

And the White House signaled it wasn’t sure it was on board, either. Press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama hasn’t decided whether to sign it if it reaches him.

“We’re still reviewing the broader package,” he said.

Those comments are somewhat of a rebuke of Senate Democrats, who negotiated the package with House Republicans and who signed off on the two provisions Mrs. Pelosi objects to, as well as the other provisions reining in the EPA and cutting money from the IRS.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who headed negotiations for her party, said the talk were tough, but Democrats managed to keep out of the bill a number of provisions the GOP had sought while keeping funding for many of their favored agencies.

“This bill invests in America’s future by creating jobs today and jobs tomorrow,” she said. “It strengthens our physical infrastructure, building roads and bridges and creating jobs in construction to keep the economy moving. It supports research and discoveries to save lives and spur the development of new products that lead to new jobs.”

Opposition to the final agreement came from both ends of the political spectrum, with conservative activist organizations Club for Growth and Heritage Action announcing they were encouraging members to vote against the bill and would score it as a “key vote” in their influential scorecards of lawmakers’ performance.

But House Republicans were confident they’ll win the Thursday vote.

Pelosi’s just blowing smoke,” said a GOP aide. “She’ll vote for it. … She’s not about to vote against a bill her party negotiated.”

House Republicans leaders, meanwhile, looked for a strong showing from rank-and-file members in the final vote. They had expected as many as 40 defectors but now aimed to cut that number to about 30, saying they sense growing support for the leadership’s strategy to clear the decks this year and set up a major brawl over Mr. Obama’s immigration moves early next year.

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