Senate passes initial part of year-end spending package

The Senate on Thursday passed the initial part of a $1.4 trillion spending package to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

Senators voted 71-23 on the first measure, which totals $534.4 billion. They’re expected to vote on the remaining bill later Thursday.

After that they'll send the legislation to President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s desk. White House officials have indicated he will sign the bills before the end of the day Friday when current funding expires.

ADVERTISEMENT

The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed the pair of bills, with the first passing on a 297-120 vote and the second passing 280-138.

The first package passed by the Senate on Thursday covers eight government funding bills: labor, health and human services, and education; agriculture; state and foreign operations; military construction and veterans affairs; transportation and housing and urban development; energy and water; interior and environment; and the legislative branch.

Passage of the spending package will cap months of haggling that blew past the Oct. 1 start of the 2020 fiscal year and repeatedly brought the government to the brink of a shutdown. Thursday’s vote came less than 36 hours before the last funding bill runs out.

Congressional leaders, in trying to sell the agreement this week, warned that the only backup to the deal on the fiscal 2020 bills would be another stopgap continuing resolution (CR) — which would have extended fiscal 2019 funding levels.

“A lot of hard work brought this appropriations process back from the brink,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (R-Ky.). “This legislation touches all 50 states. This is why full-year funding bills are better than chronic CRs.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - House Democrats plagued by Biden agenda troubles GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE (R-Ala.) pitched the bills on Thursday as a product of bipartisan cooperation.

“As the clock winds down, let’s come together and do what seemed so unlikely just a month ago: fund the entire federal government before the Christmas break,” he said.

The 12 fiscal 2020 spending bills were broken into two packages because Trump threatened that he would not sign another omnibus — when all the spending bills are rolled into one piece of legislation.

The eight bills passed first on Thursday eliminate the 2010 Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac tax," as well as an annual fee on health insurance providers and the medical device tax.

It also provides $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health for gun violence research, a major win for Democrats.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The politics of gun violence are literally shifting beneath our feet,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' MORE (D-Conn.). “The small steps forward on gun safety in this budget bill — including the funding for research I fought for and secured — are really good news. But we can’t stop here.”

The second part of the package includes funding for homeland security; defense; commerce, science and justice; and financial services and general government.

The homeland security bill includes $1.375 billion for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, the same amount included in the fiscal 2019 bill. It also leaves the number of detention beds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement flat, and, in a win for the White House, imposes no restrictions on Trump’s use of emergency powers to reprogram defense funds toward his wall.

The border wall has become a perennial sticking point in the government funding negotiations during the Trump era. A protracted fight over the border wall led to a record 35-day partial shutdown that started in December 2018 and ended with Trump declaring a national emergency to win more money.

Fiscal conservatives railed against the bill before its passage, but with the packages loaded up with priorities for both parties their opposition wasn’t enough to endanger the funding measure.

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Trump pushes back on book claims, says he spent 'virtually no time' discussing election with Lee, Graham MORE (R-Utah) blasted negotiators for pretending that they weren’t basically passing an omnibus.

“Leaders and appropriators have cleverly put the negotiated spending agreement into two bills so that we can all pretend that it’s better than just one,” he said. “Even though they were negotiated at the same time, released to the public at the same time and will be voted on within only minutes of each other."

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMatthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring it' Professor tells Cruz that Texas's voter ID law is racist Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks MORE (R-Texas) added in a video that the spending deal was a “pile of trash,” while Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordCOVID faith: Are your religious views 'sincerely held'? Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates GOP senators seek to block dishonorable discharges for unvaccinated troops MORE (R-Okla.) compared the spending bill to the first time he tried “supreme pizza.”

“There were some things that I really, really didn’t like in that bite,” he added. “There are some things in these bills coming up ... that I just cannot support.”