Democrats Say Oil Dispute Holding Up US Funding Bill

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Talks among congressional leaders on a $1.15 trillion bill to keep the U.S. government funded were being held up by a dispute over energy policy with Republicans seeking to end an oil export ban and Democrats saying any such action must be coupled with clean energy incentives, Democrats said on Tuesday.

Republican leaders said an agreement being negotiated by leaders of both parties would be unveiled later on Tuesday. But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid cautioned that disagreement continued over the energy provisions.

"At this point, the only major outstanding issue is Republicans' insistence on raising the export ban on crude oil. We've made very clear to Republicans that if they want this ... there must be included in this policies to reduce our carbon emissions and encourage renewable energy," Reid said on the Senate floor.

Reid said Democrats would be willing to move ahead with the spending legislation and a separate tax package without the energy proposals. "It's decision time," Reid said.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier that Republicans would unveil a deal for a $1.15 trillion spending bill on Tuesday, but would need to pass another short-term funding extension to allow for a vote on the measure on Thursday.

The next short-term measure could last until Friday or Saturday, said Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat.

Ryan, speaking to a breakfast sponsored by the news organization Politico, said lawmakers were putting finishing touches on the massive spending bill and affirmed his view that there would be no government shutdown at the current midnight Wednesday deadline.

"We'll be posting sometime today," Ryan said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, also said he expected legislation to be filed on Tuesday.

A senior Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said negotiators have not yet resolved Democrats' demand for a five-year tax credit for solar and wind power in exchange for lifting the 40-year-old crude oil export ban.

Democrats want the tax credit to take effect with the start of solar and wind construction projects instead of their completion, the aide said.

Ryan said both sides had given ground on their initial demands, but full details were not yet available.

Democrats also have sought an end to a nearly 20-year-ban on federal research into gun violence. Republicans want tighter screening of Syrian refugees seeking to enter the United States.

McConnell said Republicans still hoped to make some of the tax breaks permanent rather than renew them every year, as Congress has been doing.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Will Dunham)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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BJ Crooks | Dec. 15, 2015
If you think that gas was high at $3.00 a gal wait until the US company start selling in it in Europe where its now cost more than $6.00 a gal.. Big Oil gets its way again.

Don''t believe it. | Dec. 15, 2015
As usual, reid and his cronies run to the microphone and say Its is all the Republicans fault. It is all of you in government including the democrats and your policies.

Joseph | Dec. 15, 2015
Seems the ones who actually holding this up is the democrooks with their demands that couple the export with some stupid clean energy bill . Look we all understand that the US has more oil and gas that we are able to use but we also know that the federal government has put several roadblocks on new oil refineries thus shorting the people of this country the ability to buy their fuel at the same prices as many of the supposed OPEC nations . Another was it not the responsibility of the department of energy to take us off of foreign oil imports ? Yes this is exactly why the department of energy was created yet we have spent billions on them to fail on what they were meant to do . Now we have a regime that is doing everything they can to keep us dependent on foreign oil and aid those who hate us .

THOMAS AUGUSTINE | Dec. 15, 2015
THE DEMONCRAPS ARE HOLDING UP A BILL AS USUAL DEMANDING THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT AS IF THEY ARE LITTLE KIDS...... LET THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AND MAKE SURE EVERYBODY KNOWS THE DEMONCRAPS CAUSED THIS. THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO STOP BOWING DOWN TO THE DEMONCRAPS AND IF OBUMMER VETOES THE BILL THEN IT IS ON HIM

Tony Tumminello | Dec. 15, 2015
I think it is sickening that the Democrats dont give a damn about the country or its workers as long as they get to play politics. Oil workers in all the fields are unemployed or underemployed because our country was smart enough to almost become self-sufficient in gathering oil. We have done such a great job that our storage is overflowing and we might have to burn off natural Gas just because we cant store any more. We cant export it until the Dems extract their political payoff by demanding that their rich friends in the renewable energy business get yet more tax breaks for solar & wind, even before they finish the projects, while thousands wait around. Thanks, jerks!


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