- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. oil exports will cost jobs and is among a series of problems that Democrats have with a $1.1 trillion spending bill that Republicans posted in the dead of night.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, complained that American refineries will have to slash payroll if crude is shipped overseas, and that GOP negotiators included nothing in the “omnibus” spending bill to help Puerto Rico declare bankruptcy and get out from under its financial crisis.

The GOP also rejected efforts to end the ban on federal research in the causes of gun violence.

“The list goes on and on about concerns we have,” Mrs. Pelosi said after a closed-door meeting with her troops.

Her chief lieutenants then blasted a separate package of popular tax breaks posted overnight, signaling Republican votes would have to carry the bill for it to pass in its current form.

“It ought to be rejected,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat.

Democrats say the package of tax “extenders” gives away billions to business interests without extending equal relief to families.

Party feelings about the spending portion of Congress’ end-of-year agreement were more nuanced, as members stressed the importance of keeping the government funded.

In fact, Democrats may have to supply the lion’s share of votes if too many Republicans balk at the spending bill. Many of the GOP’s policy add-ons, or “riders,” were dropped in the final text.

Even so, Democrats said they had “overt” concerns about lifting the ban on oil exports.

“It’s made the deal a little tougher for a lot of my colleagues,” said Rep. Steve Israel, New York Democrat.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, also accused both parties of leaving Puerto Ricans out in the cold.

“The millions of people there have been vanquished to a very uncertain, a very difficult, future,” he said.

Congress is expected to pass another short-term funding extension before federal money runs out at midnight Wednesday, buying enough times for votes on the tax package on Thursday and the omnibus funding bill on Friday.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, has said he will not waive a rule that gives members at least part of three days to digest bills before voting, and the omnibus was not posted until about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

With time running out, Democrats said they will continue to push for a sweeter deal.

“This is December in Washington,” Mr. Israel said. “What deal is ever done until it’s done?”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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