Democrats Say Oil Dispute Holding Up US Funding Bill


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)


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