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Oil export ban in play in final-stage talks on budget deal

WASHINGTON — Republican demands to end the ban on exporting crude oil emerged as a final negotiating point Monday as lawmakers scrambled to complete a year-end spending bill needed to keep the government running.

In return for lifting the four-decade-old ban, Democrats were seeking various environmental concessions, including extending tax credits for solar and wind energy production for five years and reviving a conservation fund. Democrats also were trying to block GOP efforts to roll back Obama administration environmental regulations, with Democratic lawmakers who traveled to the Paris climate talks returning energized to fight.

"It's like they all went to an international pep rally and got all this emotional wind at their back," GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said.

Government funding runs out Wednesday at midnight, and Congress may need to pass another short-term extension of a day or two to complete work on the $1.14 trillion government-wide spending bill. Negotiations have dragged on as the legislation has become an increasingly complex grab-bag for priorities and trade-offs large and small.

The legislation was not likely to be finalized until today, which would probably mean final congressional passage toward the end of the week. Lawmakers would then head home for the holidays, having done their necessary work in typically messy and last-minute fashion.

Oil export ban in play in final-stage talks on budget deal 12/14/15 [Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2015 9:37pm]
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