Will the tires go flat on the omnibus?

Wednesday - 12/15/2010, 10:31am EST

Bob Cusack, managing editor, The Hill

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Senate Democrats unveiled a $1.1 trillion dollar omnibus bill yesterday that would fund agencies through the fiscal year and does includes a two-year pay freeze for feds.

Congress has until the end of Saturday to get a spending bill in place when the current continuing resolution runs out.

Bob Cusack, managing editor for The Hill newspaper, told Federal News Radio the question isn't whether your agency will be funded. The question is how.

The government is going to be funded, it's just a question of whether it's going to be an omnibus for a longer amount of time, for a full year, or if it's going to be what (Senate Republican leader) Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants, and some Republicans in the House want, just a continuing resolution which would fund the government maybe until early next year, probably until February.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), threatened to keep lawmakers in session through Christmas and New Year's Day if necessary.

Cusack characterized that as more of a threat than reality. He said the House would be more likely to embrace the omnibus than the proposed tax cut legislation now poised for passage in the Senate.

"Not the tax bill, but the omnibus," said Cusack,"I think they would say 'okay, maybe we could tweak it here and there and then approve it,' and as far as the House, all they have to do is come up with a new bill, bring it to the floor, they've got a strong majority right now that's going to change next month, but they could ram it through without any kind of problem."

But don't count out the CR just yet, said Cusack. When it comes to passing a big bill, like the omnibus, or a short-term CR "the smart money's on the continuing resolution. So I think there's a very good chance that's their default mode."

Since it seems Reid has the votes to pass the omnibus, said Cusack, the big challenge will be getting the floor time in the Senate for debate. That could come "later this week at the earliest. I think they could very well go into the weekend."

Cusack told the Federal Drive he's confident Reid will make the floortime, "so I think you'll probably see that sometime around Friday, Saturday."