U.S. tax, spending deal meets resistance from lawmakers

WASHINGTON A deal to avoid a U.S. government shutdown met resistance on Wednesday from both conservative Republicans concerned about spending and House Democrats who complained about tax breaks and a planned end to a ban on U.S. oil exports.The deal, which was tentatively embraced by negotiators late on Tuesday after weeks of wrangling, includes a $1.15 trillion U.S. government spending bill and a companion $650 billion package of tax breaks.House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said he was confident of a bipartisan compromise and that there is "no reason to believe we're going to have a shutdown" like the 17-day crisis of 2013 when federal workers were furloughed because of a fight over the Obamacare healthcare program.The Republican-controlled House will vote on extending tax breaks for corporations and individuals on Thursday and the "omnibus" spending bill which would fund the U.S. government through September 2016, on Friday, lawmakers said.Some Republican fiscal hawks balked at the funding bill, raising questions about the support for it in the House, although it was unclear whether conservatives had the votes or the inclination to push the country to a government shutdown.Representative Jim Jordan told Reuters the so-called Freedom Caucus and other conservative Republicans would vote against the spending bill because it failed to include provisions to tighten U.S. screening of Syrian refugees, address national security concerns and deny funding to Planned Parenthood, a target of abortion rights opponents.It also contained too many concessions to Democrats, he said. "The omnibus, I think, has real problems, not just with Freedom Caucus members, but with lots of Republicans," Jordan said after meeting with colleagues.The White House reacted positively to the deal, saying it met President Barack Obama's priorities without including "hundreds of needless ideological" extra measures. HISTORIC OIL ACCORD Lifting the prohibition on oil exports would be a historic move and a win for the U.S. oil industry and Republicans, who had argued that the ban was a relic of the 1970s Arab oil embargo. But with U.S. output now falling as oil prices slump, analysts say it could be months or years before exports flow in large volumes.In a partial victory for Obama and other Democrats, thespending bill also includes granting tax incentives to boost wind and solar development, according to lawmakers involved inthe talks. Shares of solar companies rose sharply. But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she was concerned American oil refinery jobs could be lost by lifting the crude export ban. "There are concerns we have about jobs, that jobs would leave the country because of lifting the ban on crude oil exports," Pelosi told reporters. She said work needs to be done on the bill to protect those jobs. She also cited worries about planned tax breaks, telling reporters they amounted to "practically an immorality.""Republicans' tax extender bill provides hundreds of billions of dollars in special interest tax breaks that are permanent and unpaid for," she said in a statement. "These massive giveaways to the special interests and big corporations are deeply destructive to our future."As often happens with "must-pass" legislation, lawmakers added in seemingly unrelated measures to the overall deal to increase their chances of approval in Congress.The bill will repeal U.S. meat labeling laws, removing the threat of retaliation by Canada and Mexico against $1 billion a year in U.S. exports after the World Trade Organization ruled the laws breached international obligations. But there was no financial bailout for Puerto Rico to ease its fiscal crisis, a failure that Pelosi also highlighted.Before Congress debates the long-term bills, it is expected on Wednesday to pass another stop-gap funding bill giving lawmakers until Dec. 22 to complete their work. Without the temporary measure, federal funding for a range of government programs expires at midnight on Wednesday. (Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Doina Chiacu, David Lawder and Richard Cowan; Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Trott)