Lawmakers strike deal on $1T funding bill

645X363 - No Companion - Full Sharing - Additional videos are suggested - Policy/Regulation/Blogs

Congressional leaders on Tuesday evening reached a deal on a nearly $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government funded.  
 

ADVERTISEMENT
Dubbed the “cromnibus,” the package includes 11 appropriations bills to fund most of the government through September 2015, and tacks on a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 27.

The bill was posted after 8 p.m. Tuesday. Passage of the bill would avert a shutdown, which appeared to be a possibility last month when conservatives demanded action to block President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

The delayed release of the funding bill will push the lame-duck schedule back, with lawmakers itching to wrap up work for the year and return home for the holidays.

Both chambers of Congress are now expected to vote on a stopgap bill to fund the government for two or three days to buy time for the Senate to consider the larger package.

The House Rules Committee will mark up the “cromnibus” Wednesday afternoon, setting up a probable Thursday vote in the House. The Senate could also vote on it Thursday, but it’s more likely that work on the bill could spill into Friday or the weekend.

The $1.013 trillion bill abides by the caps set by last December’s budget deal, which relieved sequestration for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Emergency funding brings the bill’s total to under $1.1 trillion.

It includes $64 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding for the Pentagon, including $5 billion to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and $5.4 billion to combat the Ebola epidemic.

The White House had requested $5.6 billion for anti-ISIS operations and $6.2 billion to fight Ebola.  

Congressional leaders have also proposed adding a provision that would increase the amount a person can contribute to a national political party from $32,400 to $324,000. The proposed amendment would also allow a person to give $648,000 in a two-year cycle and a couple could give double that amount in the same period. 

The bill doesn’t specifically include new funding to provide law enforcement agencies with body cameras, which Obama had asked Congress to provide in the wake of the decision not to indict the police officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson. 

The spending package, however, does provide funding for other related community policing programs. 

Obama had requested an additional $263 million for body cameras and training for law enforcement agencies. 

The bill also provides $948 million for the unaccompanied children program, $80 million more than in fiscal 2014. The program allows the Department of Health and Human Services to provide health and education services to unaccompanied minors who enter the United States from Central America—a flow that had surged earlier this year.

The leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), have proposed an amendment for pension reform that will likely be wrapped into the package. They propose to permit trustees of underfunded plans to adjust benefits, saving troubled plans without a federal bailout. 

The legislation also includes $73 million to bolster a national database designed to block gun sales to the mentally ill and other prohibited buyers – a $14.5 million increase over fiscal 2014 levels.

A one-year extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act is attached to the bill, which bans state and local government from imposing taxes on Internet sales and services.

Republicans attached a number of controversial riders, including one that overturns the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington, D.C., a law passed overwhelmingly by D.C. voters just last month.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSanders tests Wasserman Schultz Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate MORE (D-Nev.) on Tuesday criticized the pot language and other GOP riders considered for the bill, but indicated that they would not cost the bill his support.

The package includes a separate rider that would bar the Justice Department from disrupting state-enacted medical marijuana programs.

The funding bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw a rule that outlined numerous exemptions to the Clean Water Act for farmers. Republicans and agricultural groups complained that it appeared to outlaw scores of other common practices that were previously allowed. The GOP also attached a rider that would restrict the listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species because Republicans argue that would prevent oil-drilling projects.

Taking aim at school nutrition standards championed by first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaClinton rules out Sanders while playing 'who'd you rather' to chose running mate First Nigerian girl taken by Boko Haram rescued WATCH: Obama accidentally steps on First Lady's dress at state dinner MORE, the spending package includes a provision that provides flexibility to schools to implement some of the standards and to ease some of the new sodium guidelines.

A number of other contentious riders didn’t make the cut, such as restrictions on President Obama’s proposed regulations to reduce power plants’ carbon emissions.

In a statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t immediately back the bill, but left the door open to eventually supporting it.

“Until we review the final language, we cannot make a determination about whether House Democrats can support this legislation, but I am hopeful,” she said.

Although the White House, like congressional Democrats, is waiting until it can conduct a full review of the legislative language before officially signaling its view on the funding bill, there are a number of provisions that appeal to to the administration.

The funding bill does not limit implementation of ObamaCare, and retains existing authorities of the Department of Health and Human Services. And the package includes one of the White House’s top budgetary priorities: funding for both the international and domestic response to Ebola.

The White House also appears happy with appropriators’ funding decisions for the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations budget.

The “cromnibus” does not include funding for high-speed rail, for the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” education program and for the International Monetary Fund, among other things. 

No new funding for ObamaCare is included. The bill includes the Hyde Amendment, which bans all federal funding for abortions.

The bill cuts $345.6 million from the Internal Revenue Service’s budget and $60 million from the EPA.

Mike Lillis and Timothy Cama contributed.

— This story was updated at 11:14 p.m.