Winners and losers from the $1.3T omnibus
Congress is on the verge of passing a $1.3 trillion omnibus that would fund the government through September and provide the biggest federal spending increase in years.
The bill is loaded with provisions given its likely standing as the last legislative train leaving the station before the midterms, and members have been scrambling to compete for a slice of the funding pie.
Here are the winners and losers of the spending bill fight.
The bill is a victory for defense hawks who have balked at the series of stopgap funding bills this year that kept the Pentagon’s spending reined in.
The new bill gives the Department of Defense a $61 billion increase, allowing it to increase troop levels and upgrade its weapons system. Troops will get a 2.4 percent pay raise, which would be the largest increase in nearly a decade.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
The bill provides a significant boost to domestic spending, as Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democrats in both chambers had leverage with Republicans needing their votes.
But Schumer also secured a win in the form of money for the Gateway project, a multibillion-dollar rail reconstruction effort in the New York metro region.
The fight over Gateway pitted two New Yorkers against one another in Schumer and President Trump, who threatened to veto legislation if it included the $900 million that was initially slated for the program.
Leaders came to a compromise agreement that would allow the project to get up to $541 million in federal funds through the Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Account and funds that would go to New York and New Jersey from two Transportation Department grant programs.
While the White House can say it cut the federal commitment, Schumer and his state could still get significant financing for their project.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
Ryan emerges as a winner by inches.
The Speaker can tout his omnibus’s defense spending, and passage of the bill prevented a shutdown that might have been blamed on Republicans.
He gave colleagues running in tight reelection races items to tout on the campaign trail as they seek to argue that Republicans should remain in power.
The Speaker is also responsible for helping to coral Trump’s support for the omnibus after an impromptu visit to the White House, following reports that the president was unhappy with the deal.
Yet Ryan won while angering House conservatives outraged that a 2,232-page bill was passed about 17 hours after it was released.
The bill will expand the budget deficit, which has grown worse on Ryan’s watch, and all of this could make it tougher for the Speaker to eke out support in a House election in the next Congress.
It’s another reason many are starting to think this is Ryan’s last Congress as Speaker.
GOP tax writers
Agriculture industry groups and Republican lawmakers had been pushing for a fix to a provision in the new GOP tax law that had the unintended consequence of encouraging farmers to sell their products to cooperatives instead of to private companies.
Ultimately, Democrats agreed to allow a fix for the so called grain glitch in exchange for an expansion of the low-income housing tax credit.
House Freedom Caucus and fiscal conservatives
The House Freedom Caucus and conservatives in general were furious over the price tag of the omnibus, which they say is fiscally irresponsible and adds to the deficit.
Many fiscal hawks ended up voting against the massive funding package, as well as a procedural vote to advance it.
Conservatives ripped congressional leaders for writing the bill in secret and giving lawmakers just 16 hours to read the 2,200-page bill before it got a House floor vote.
“This is an embarrassment to every taxpayer in America,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters. “This is a great dane-size whizz down the leg of every taxpayer in America.”
“Everybody who participates in this process oughta put a bag on their head,” he added.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Collins and other supporters of a bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare hoped the spending measure would be the vehicle for their legislation.
But Republicans insisted that a rule known as the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal money from being used to fund abortion and is included in annual spending bills, also be applied to any new funds aimed at lowering ObamaCare premiums.
Democrats pushed back, arguing that it would prevent the government from offering money to any insurance plan that offered abortion coverage at all.
Collins didn’t hide her disappointment.
It is extremely disappointing that Speaker Ryan chose not to include our health insurance legislation in the government funding bill due to opposition from Leader Pelosi. (1/3)
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) March 22, 2018
The omnibus does not contain a fix for an Obama-era immigration program that protects immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Democrats dropped their demands to protect so-called Dreamers in the omnibus, though they shut down the government earlier this year over the issue.
A court has blocked the Trump administration from ending the program, taking away the sense of urgency in Congress to address the issue and leaving the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in limbo.
“I just think the Dreamers were thrown under the omnibus,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.).
Supporters of gun control can’t be that happy with the omnibus.
Congressional leaders did attach several measures addressing gun violence to the omnibus, including provisions to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, beef up school safety and clarify that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can research gun violence as a public health issue.
But the steps are among the most modest gun proposals that have been discussed after last month’s Florida high school shooting, and fall far short of the demands of gun reform advocates.
Thousands of people are expected to march in Washington and around the nation on Saturday to protest gun violence.
Their message on Saturday is likely to be that they want to see much more from Congress.
President Trump had hoped to win $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Instead, he won just $1.6 billion for a physical barrier, including $641 million for new border fencing. The funding would only be used for levees and fences, not a concrete wall.
It was enough for Trump to declare victory in a tweet, but it’s far short of his demands.
Trump did have some clear wins in the omnibus, however, and will be happy to have clawed back some funding from the Gateway project.
Trump was reportedly hesitant to embrace the spending deal, with his biggest gripe being the lack of border wall funding. But he ultimately got on board with the omnibus following an impromptu meeting with Ryan at the White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also called in to the meeting by phone to highlight some of the wins in the bill.
“Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever,” Trump tweeted Wednesday night.
“Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment,” Trump added.
Mike Lillis, Naomi Jagoda, Mallory Shelbourne and Niv Ellis contributed
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