Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to speed the
process along collapsed during late-night talks in the nearly
abandoned U.S. Capitol.
Barring any agreement to act in a more streamlined way, the Senate
is on track to hold a procedural vote at 1 a.m. eastern time Sunday
aimed at clearing the way for passage on Monday.
The breakdown in talks capped a week in which passage of the massive
spending bill to fund most of the government through Sept. 30, 2015,
advanced in fits and starts.
Some senators, angered over the bill's easing of a "Dodd-Frank" bank
regulation law requirement, wanted a shot at removing the provision.
But demands from some conservative Republicans for a separate vote
on an amendment to immediately defund President Barack Obama's
implementation of a recently announced immigration program further
stymied the bill's progress on Friday.
In order to keep federal agencies operating beyond midnight
Saturday, when existing funds expire, the Senate is expected to pass
sometime Saturday a stop-gap bill to temporarily fund the government
through the middle of next week.
The House of Representatives already passed such a measure
anticipating the Senate's inability to finish the broad spending
bill this week.
The 1,603-page spending bill, negotiated by Republican and
Democratic appropriators and leaders, narrowly passed the House on
Thursday following a battle that exposed fraying unity in Obama's
A revolt over financial provisions by House Democratic leader Nancy
Pelosi, long a staunch Obama ally, led to a day of tension on
Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Democrats balked at rolling back part of Dodd-Frank, an early
legislative achievement of the Obama administration that was passed
in response to the 2008 financial crisis and aimed to rein in
risk-taking by Wall Street. Democrats also objected to a provision
allowing bigger political donations.
The Dodd-Frank provision would kill planned restrictions on
derivatives trading by large banks, allowing them to continue
trading swaps and futures in units that benefit from federal deposit
insurance and Federal Reserve loans.
Democrats, aware of the need for unity when Republicans take full
control of Congress next year after their midterm election gains,
tried to tamp down speculation of a lasting split between Obama and
Pelosi. One leadership aide said Pelosi had fired a warning shot to
Republicans that House Democrats would fight hard in the new year.
Reid opened Friday's debate on the bill urging quick passage. "Since
2011 we have lurched from crisis to crisis with the country
constantly under the threat of shutdown or financial catastrophe,"
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McConnell was also anxious to avoid another unpopular government
shutdown as the Republicans head toward taking control of the Senate
after the November elections that also gave them a larger House
PLAYING DOWN THE DIVIDE
Democrats seeking to play down the Pelosi-Obama divide noted that
the two actually were in agreement that the Dodd-Frank measure and
some other Republican add-ons were objectionable, but differed on
stopping the bill because of them.
While Pelosi put up a spirited fight to kill the add-ons, she
stopped short of trying to slay the spending bill late Thursday by
demanding “no” votes by her Democrats.
The battle was a warning to Republicans against further erosion of
Dodd-Frank or the president's landmark healthcare law, said a House
Democratic leadership aide.
If such challenges arise next year, Pelosi said, "Should the
president threaten a veto, the votes will be here in the House to
Democratic fervor against the Dodd-Frank provision was stirred up in
part by Senator Elizabeth Warren, viewed as a possible 2016
In a Senate floor speech Friday, she singled out Citigroup's
"influence" on the U.S. political process.
"Let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with
you. Dodd-Frank isn't perfect. It should have broken you into
Another possible presidential aspirant, Republican Senator Ted Cruz,
delivered a fiery speech late on Friday to rally opposition to
Obama's immigration reforms.
In the 219-206 House vote, 67 Republicans rejected the spending
bill, largely because it failed to take action to stop Obama's
immigration order. But that was offset by 57 Democrats who voted in
The spending bill would fund all government agencies through
September 2015, except for the Department of Homeland Security,
which would get an extension only through Feb. 27. That is the
department mainly in charge of implementing the order announced by
Obama last month.
(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Amanda Becker)
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