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House to draft stopgap spending bill

House to draft stopgap spending bill
Posted at 11:15 AM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 14:15:57-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will pass a short-term bill to prevent the government from shutting down this weekend, Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday.

The announcement from the Wisconsin Republican came as talks on a sweeping $1.1 trillion governmentwide spending bill move slowly just days ahead of Friday's midnight deadline.

The government is currently operating under a short-term spending bill. The new stopgap spending bill will buy time for talks on the bigger measure.

"We need to get it right," Ryan said of the broader measure. "I don't want us to go home until we get this done."

The full-year spending bill is the main unresolved item on the congressional agenda as lawmakers look to wrap up the session and head home for the holidays. Democrats, backed by President Barack Obama, have adopted a hard line against numerous GOP policy provisions woven into the 12 spending bills that serve as the template for what promises to be one huge bill.

Republicans are holding out for policy "riders" that would, for instance, end the four-decade ban on crude oil exports, block new rules on power-plant emissions and stall a new Labor Department rule requiring financial advisers to avoid conflicts of interest when structuring retirement accounts.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday the administration opposes ending the ban, and stressed that Republicans "should focus on the budgetary priorities of the country and not try to advance ideological aspects of their agenda that have stalled elsewhere."

Republican Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said Democrats are "trying to jam us."

Earnest said Obama would sign a short-term spending bill if Congress needed an extra day or two, but not a long-term extension to add more policy riders.

Another key item in the final days of the session would extend several dozen popular tax breaks for individuals and businesses. House GOP leaders unveiled a two-year measure that not only continues some lapsed tax breaks through 2016, but also expands some and adds new ones.

Some businesses would get more generous tax credits for their research and development expenses and larger write-offs for property or equipment. There are also tax breaks for some insurance and timber companies, holders of Section 529 investment accounts for college expenses, people who have been wrongly imprisoned and businesses that donate food to charities.

In addition, the measure contains language aimed at the IRS and the 2013 controversy over the intense scrutiny it gave some tea party organizations seeking tax-exempt status. These include provisions making it easier for groups to apply to the IRS for tax exemptions and to appeal decisions against them, and requiring the firing of IRS workers found to have taken action for political purposes.

Talks on a more ambitious tax measure permanently extending some of the tax breaks have stalled