WASHINGTON - House Speaker Paul Ryan announced late Tuesday an agreement between congressional leaders and the White House on a year-end tax and spending package that would fund the government through the 2016 budget year, raise domestic and defense spending, and increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars by extending numerous popular tax credits without paying for them.
Ryan announced the deal in a closed-door late-night meeting with GOP lawmakers. He urged Republicans to support it even though it's a compromise containing plenty of wins for Democrats. He said Republican victories are reflected, too, including lifting the four-decade-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil.
"This is divided government," Rep. John Kline (R., Minn.) said coming out of the meeting. "If you're going to move forward and follow Speaker Ryan's notion that we move onto offense next year . . . let's put 2015 behind us and move onto 2016."
Democratic aides cautioned that final language was still being worked out.
Republican leaders predicted the package would come to a vote in the House and Senate on Thursday, allowing lawmakers to head home for the holidays having completed their needed tasks. First they will have to pass yet another short-term government funding extension, since the current one runs out Wednesday at midnight.
"In negotiations like this you win some, you lose some," Ryan (R., Wis.) said earlier in the day at an event hosted by Politico. "Democrats won some, they lost some. We won some, we lost some."
Eleventh-hour negotiations twisted and turned on the mammoth deal pairing the $1.1 trillion spending legislation with a giant tax bill catering to any number of special interests. The deal, Congress' last major piece of unfinished business for the year, became the vehicle for countless long-sought priorities and odds and ends, including reform of visa-free travel to the U.S., renewable energy tax credits and health benefits for 9/11 first responders.
Democrats, despite their minority party status in Congress, exacted a price in the negotiations, thanks to President Obama's veto pen and Republicans' need for their votes on the spending bill.
Last-stage negotiations focused on horse trading around Democratic demands in exchange for lifting the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil, a Republican goal. Democrats succeeded in killing GOP attempts to roll back Obama environmental regulations, and obtained extensions of wind and solar tax credits, and permanent extension of the child tax credit.