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

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Here's the advantage to the GOP strategy: Once House members leave Washington for recess, and hence are not available for future votes, the heat is on the Senate to accept the House version of the fiscal 2012 omnibus spending bill. A darkened House also leaves the Senate with no option for extending the Social Security payroll tax cuts but to approve the House-passed version, which blocks key environmental regulations, forces an early decision on an oil pipeline that the White House had put off, and avoids raising taxes on the highest-income Americans.

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.

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