GOP prepares release of funding bill to avoid shutdown

GOP prepares release of funding bill to avoid shutdown
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Republican leaders in Congress are preparing to unveil a sweeping government funding bill on Tuesday that is expected to clear both chambers just in time to meet Friday’s deadline.

House and Senate GOP leaders agreed to stick to the $1.07 trillion spending levels set by President Obama and top Republicans last year, while offering a slight boost to defense spending, a GOP appropriations aide confirmed to The Hill.

The bill would keep money flowing to the federal government through April 28, and is expected to receive broad support within the GOP. The government’s current funding expires at midnight on Friday. 

The legislation would boost defense spending by about $10 billion, outside of the spending caps, according to House Appropriations spokeswoman Jennifer Hing. The money is part of the controversial overseas contingency fund, which defense hawks say needs even more funding. 

The bill also includes major new spending on health initiatives, according to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who leads the health subcommittee for the House Appropriations Committee. 

It includes roughly $170 million in aid for the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., and $300 million for the House-passed medical cures bill that funds the cancer moonshot, along with new research at the National Institutes of Health and programs to tackle opioid abuse.

It also includes funding for flood relief in Louisiana, Cole said. 

Cole did not know if the bill included an extension of the coal miner pension benefits, a major item for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTwo years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded McGrath releases ad blasting McConnell with coal miners in Kentucky: 'Which side are you on?' Prediction: 2020 election is set to be hacked, if we don't act fast MORE (R-Ky.).

He also did not know if GOP leaders decided to include a waiver that would allow former General Mattis to serve as President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE's Defense secretary.  

The bill’s funding would go through the end of April, something Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Soaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington MORE (R-Wis.) confirmed during his press conference Tuesday morning.

Ryan said Senate GOP leaders had asked for the delay — which replaces the initial end date of March 31 — to accommodate their “crowded schedule” with Cabinet confirmations.

GOP leaders will now have about three months to work with Trump to craft a sprawling government spending package for fiscal 2017 by next spring. 

It will likely be a messy process: The current fiscal year’s funding package will be in the works at the same time that Republican budget leaders ramp up the process for the fiscal 2018 spending bills.

The House Appropriations committee has lambasted the decision to write another short-term spending bill, which they say will complicate the already tough task of passing all 12 appropriations bills next year. 

Departing Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has said he is “disappointed” in the move, while calling for the return of regular order next year to prevent the “damaging process” of short-term bills in the future.

Ryan on Tuesday voiced confidence that GOP budget leaders would be able to hammer out the massive spending bill next spring with the Trump administration.  

“Our appropriators will get right back to work early in the year to put together an appropriations bill to close out the fiscal year,” Ryan said.  

 

- Sylvan Lane contributed