GOP leaders reveal stopgap spending bill
© Greg Nash

GOP leaders announced a deal Tuesday to keep the government funded for nearly six months, with a slight boost to defense spending and bipartisan health programs. 

The 70-page stopgap spending bill runs through April 28, allowing the incoming Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE administration to take an active role in negotiations this spring.

ADVERTISEMENT

The House will take up the bill as early as Thursday, aiming to clear it through the Senate by the Friday deadline.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement late Tuesday that the bill “does not include controversial riders, or major changes in existing federal policy.”  

But Democrats have raised major objections with at least one part of the bill. GOP leaders decided late in the negotiations to include a provision that eases the restrictions for retired military members to be confirmed.

This would almost immediately benefit Trump’s Defense secretary pick, retired Gen. James Mattis, who has been out of active military duty for less than the currently required seven years.

Government funding would remain at the same level — $1.07 trillion — keeping it below the federal government’s strict spending caps.

But defense spending would receive a boost through the overseas contingency fund. The Department of Defense and the State Department will share an $8 billion increase in funding, above the current caps on discretionary funding.  

The GOP’s bill also ends a lengthy funding fight over the lead-contaminated water crisis in cities like Flint, Mich. The bill includes $170 million in grants for drinking water safety and a lead exposure registry.  

The Flint water crisis has long been linked to another funding battle over aid for flood victims, which has been championed by GOP leaders such as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

The flood relief package totals $4.1 billion, which includes $1.8 billion in block grants to rebuild communities, $1 billion for projects to avert future storm damage and $1 billion to fix damaged highways.    

The final big-ticket item in the spending bill is funding for the bipartisan medical cures bill, known as 21st Century Cures Act.

The final funding tally is $872 million — below the co-sponsors’ initial expectations — that will go toward medical research, Food and Drug Administration reforms and state grants to address the opioid epidemic.   

House and Senate GOP leaders have been on the path toward a continuing resolution, rather than a messy end-of-year spending deal, since Trump’s election.

Congressional leaders said Trump specifically asked to postpone the biggest spending decisions until he is in office.  

Rogers has long said he would agree to do so, but included sharp language about the decision not to complete the spending bill process. 

“This legislation is just a band aid, but a critical one," Rogers said, adding that the bill addresses only the most “immediate” funding needs.

The CR also includes a “technical fix” to a drafting error made in last year’s omnibus spending bill regarding hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. The language clarifies what rules will be in place if the Department of Transportation fails to prove that a proposed change to the rule is beneficial for drivers.