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Democrats' tough choice: shut down government or swallow GOP's bills

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The White House says Congress should pass another stop-gap measure, as it has seven times already this year.

“The president continues to have significant concerns about a number of provisions that have been reported to be in the Republican agreement on the omnibus,” said White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, in a Dec. 14 statement. These include provisions that would undercut Wall Street reforms and environmental protections, as well as the president’s foreign policy prerogatives, he added.

 The omnibus spending bill completes work on the nine remaining annual appropriations bills, including Pentagon spending as well as controversial Labor-Health and Interior-environment bills.

It’s not clear that House GOP leaders can muster the votes in their own caucus to pass the giant spending bill. On Nov. 17, 101 House Republicans broke with GOP leaders to oppose a package of three fiscal 2012 spending bills, forcing GOP leaders to pass them with Democratic votes. These conservatives, mainly members of the Republican Study Committee, said the bills included too much spending.

The final omnibus spending bill includes even more spending, as well as controversial policy riders.

“We’ve barely seen the bill,” says Rep. Jeff Flake (R) of Arizona. “It’s an awful big bill to get a vote on that fast.” 

“Some riders got in, some got knocked out, and I don’t even know – and I’m on the appropriations committee,” he adds. “Whenever we come to an impasse, our leadership says, we can’t shut the government down. We haven’t had the leverage in any negotiation we’ve gone into. That’s what’s frustrating to me.”

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