By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) — In return for Republicans’ getting to lift the country’s long-standing cap on exports of crude oil, Democrats are likely to get five-year extensions of the tax credits now used to help finance solar and wind projects.
The tradeoff is a part of a Christmas compromise on tax cuts and spending that federal lawmakers were girding themselves to pass by week’s end. The package would extend dozens of tax breaks for businesses and families and financing for 2016 government operations.
The House will vote on the tax package on Thursday and the spending bill on Friday, GOP leadership told Republicans on Wednesday morning, bringing an end to Congress’s tumultuous 2015.
Despite dissenters in both parties, passage was likely and President Barack Obama’s signature seemed assured for an accord bearing victories for everyone from oil companies and working-class families to 9/11 emergency workers and biomedical researchers.
“This is divided government,” Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said of the measures, which together totaled more than 2,200 pages.
In an unspoken reference to a year that saw GOP lawmakers force the departure of former Speaker John Boehner and battle frequently among themselves, Kline added, “Let’s put 2015 behind us and move on to 2016,” an election year when Republicans hope to showcase initiatives revamping the tax code and Obama’s health care overhaul.
With temporary financing of federal agencies expiring Wednesday at midnight, the House by voice vote approved a stop-gap bill preventing a government shutdown through next Tuesday, giving lawmakers time to finish the long-term spending legislation. Senate passage was also expected.
The two-part compromise announced Tuesday included a $1.1 trillion measure that would pay for federal agencies’ operations in the 2016 federal budget year that started Oct. 1. A separate bill, roughly estimated at around $650 billion over the next decade, would renew around 50 business and individual tax breaks that have expired or are about to lapse.
Flung between the measures were wins and losses for both parties.
As their top triumph, Republicans cited a lifting of the nation’s ban on crude oil exports, imposed 40 years ago during chronic oil shortages. GOP lawmakers mocked it as a relic that ignored today’s burgeoning U.S. supplies enabled by new drilling methods, while critics called the move an environmentally damaging windfall for big oil companies.
In exchange, Democrats won five-year extensions of credits for wind and solar energy producers and a renewal of a fund used to conserve land and water resources. They also blocked GOP proposals to thwart Obama administration clean air and water regulations, but many still found the lifting of the oil export ban a bitter pill.
“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.
After years of trying, Republicans claimed wins by making permanent business-tax breaks for research and development and for buying new equipment. People in states without income taxes could also permanently continue deducting local sales taxes on their federal returns.
Democrats got permanent extensions of tax credits for college costs, children and lower-income families.
Taxes imposed to help pay for Obama’s health-care overhaul in 2010, which Republicans have long sought to unravel, were curbed — to the applause of the GOP and many Democrats. These included a tax on high-cost health insurance whose scheduled 2018 start was delayed two years, a win for unions, and a suspension in 2016 and 2017 of the 2.3 percent levy on many medical devices.
Language limiting reimbursements to insurance companies that lose money on the federal and state health insurance exchanges was retained, despite Democratic efforts to erase it.
Many expired tax breaks were renewed temporarily, including reductions for some companies on Indian reservations, racehorses and some film and TV productions.
Omitted were two large GOP goals: Language dismantling much of Obama’s health-care law and blocking federal money for Planned Parenthood, which would be certain to draw vetoes. Eager to enact the tax changes and federal funding without a veto fight that could prompt a government shutdown, Republicans have put those provisions in separate legislation.
Democrats said they blocked over 150 GOP-sought provisions.
That included one making it much harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S., which the House approved after last month’s terror attack in Paris. Surviving was widely supported language tightening curbs on foreign tourists visiting without visas.
An expired program providing treatment and health monitoring to 9/11 emergency responders was included.
Republicans said the bill held the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget to 2008 spending levels. They also said they prevented increases in most Internal Revenue Service operations, though that agency’s overall $11.2 billion budget was $1.1 billion more than the GOP-run House approved earlier this year.
Medical researchers at the government’s National Institutes of Health would get $32 billion for 2016, a $2 billion increase.
AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner and reporters Andrew Taylor and Mary Clare Jalonick also contributed to this report.