Senate GOP, Dems reach deal to move major domestic spending bill

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he has reached a deal with Democrats to move a major spending package next month that would fund the Pentagon, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Labor.

The Labor-HHS spending bill, as it’s known, is the biggest domestic spending appropriations bill passed by Congress, and it usually languishes until the end of the year because of partisan fights over the cost of social programs.

{mosads}But McConnell wants to move it to the floor in August, along with a bill funding the Defense Department, a top Republican priority, months earlier than in recent years.

“We have an agreement with the Democrats to take up in a few weeks a combination of Labor[-HHS] and Defense,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.

“Our hope is by the end of August the Senate will approve nine of 12 appropriations bills, which means 90 percent of the funding of the federal government — from the Senate point of view — will be done through the regular order before we get to Labor Day,” he added.

McConnell said he hopes the Senate and House will be able to work out their differences on those nine spending bills so they can be delivered to President Trump for signature before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

“We hope to be able to conference those bills with the House and send the president a series of conference reports covering those nine of 12 appropriations bills early after we get back from the Labor Day weekend break,” he said.

McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) have agreed to keep poison-pill policy riders out of Senate appropriations bills so they can move on time and not get delayed by partisan fights.

But House Republicans have a different view. They are adding controversial policy changes to their spending bills, which could lead to protracted negotiations in the fall.

McConnell on Tuesday acknowledged the differences between the two chambers.

“On the Senate side, both sides have sort of stood down on policy riders in order to expedite the process,” he said. “The House has taken a different approach, so clearly we’re going to have to reconcile these differences in order to actually function and get these bills signed.”

Tags Appropriations Budget Charles Schumer Donald Trump Education Health and Human Services Labor Mitch McConnell Pentagon

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