House Republicans announce tax, spending deal that ends ban on oil exports

Dec. 15, 2015: (l to r) GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell, John Thune, John Cornyn on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (AP)

Dec. 15, 2015: (l to r) GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell, John Thune, John Cornyn on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (AP)

House Republicans announced a deal Tuesday night between the GOP-led Congress and the White House on a trillion-dollar, year-end tax and spending package to fund the government through fiscal year 2016.

Capitol Hill lawmakers have worked overtime on the legislation, passing one temporary-spending resolution and needing a second after missing their initial Dec. 11 deadline, when the government technically ran out of money.

Despite dissenters in both parties, passage was likely and President Barack Obama's signature seemed assured. With temporary financing of federal agencies expiring Wednesday at midnight, congressional leaders planned to approve a stop-gap bill preventing a government shutdown through next Tuesday, giving lawmakers time to finish the long-term spending legislation.

The legislation includes increases in domestic and defense spending. And it increases the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars by extending numerous, popular tax credits without paying for them.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced the deal in a closed-door, late-night meeting with GOP lawmakers and said it includes their proposal to lift a four-decade-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil.

While Ryan urged fellow Republicans to support the legislation, he made clear it’s a compromise deal with plenty of wins for Democrats, too.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he was impressed with the work Congress had done on the tax-credit legislation and the $1.14 trillion omnibus spending bill. However, he said he was unsure about whether he could vote for either.

The final package also is expected to allow for the delay of three ObamaCare taxes -- the medical device tax, so-called “Cadillac tax” and health insurance tax -- congressional sources told Fox News.

The ObamaCare provisions have long faced bipartisan criticism. The first two taxes -- on medical devices and high-end insurance plans -- were supposed to take effect in 2018, but would be delayed until 2020 if the deal passes as expected. The third, a levy imposed on health insurers that typically is passed onto customers in the form of higher premiums, would be suspended for a year.

After the closed-door meeting, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., suggested uniting behind Ryan as the new speaker and supporting the legislation.

“Move onto offense next year,” he said. “Let's put 2015 behind us and move onto 2016."

House Republicans said a vote on the package is expected by Thursday, sending it to the Senate. But Democratic aides cautioned final language was still being worked out.

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.

Democrats said they blocked over 150 GOP-sought provisions, including language blocking federal money for Planned Parenthood, which would be certain to draw Obama's veto.

"We may not be in the majority but we're feeling that these goals are on track," boasted Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. 

Final negotiations focused on horse trading around Democratic demands in exchange for lifting the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil. 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.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest sounded resigned to Obama signing the oil-export bill despite previous threats to veto the measure as stand-alone legislation.

The export ban was imposed during energy shortages of the 1970s but has been declared outdated by industry allies. Environmentalists say lifting it would amount to a giant windfall for the oil industry.

"I'm confident that there will be things that will be included in the omnibus bill that we don't support," Earnest said. "I don't know if the lifting of the export ban will be among them, but our position on this is pretty clear."

"Not only are we losing the oil, but we're losing the jobs that go into refining it," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The final package ignored conservative demands for language clamping down on Syrian refugees entering the U.S. Instead it contains changes tightening up the "visa waiver" program that allows visa-free travel to the U.S. for citizens of 38 countries, including France and Belgium, where many of last month's Paris attackers were from.

Also in play were about 50 lapsed and expiring business and individual tax breaks that the two sides were looking to extend, in some cases permanently. The price tag could mushroom to several hundred billion dollars or more over a decade, which would further add to federal deficits. The two sides agreed to make some expiring business tax credits permanent in exchange for doing the same to tax breaks for children, college students and lower-earning families.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday morning that such a deal would make a larger tax reform package easier to achieve next year, while satisfying business goals, including extending a research and development tax credit and a popular deduction for equipment purchases.

"Making those permanent is, I think, an important shot in the arm to our economy," McConnell said at an event hosted by Politico.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.