White House pushes back on House spending ‘mini-bus’

White House pushes back on House spending ‘mini-bus’
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The White House on Tuesday said it does not support the first fiscal 2019 appropriations package, which is scheduled to be considered on the House floor this week, but stopped short of threatening a veto.

The White House objected to the increased nondefense caps that Democrats and Republicans agreed to earlier in the year, and that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE signed into law.

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“The Administration strongly supports the overall Defense levels included in the BBA. However, given the Nation’s long-term fiscal constraints and the need to right-size the Federal Government, the Administration does not support the BBA’s non-Defense cap of $597 billion, $57 billion above the FY 2019 Budget,” the White House wrote in a statement of administration policy.

The package combines three appropriations bills: Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

In its letter, the administration suggested a series of cuts to nondefense programs in the three appropriations bills that are being considered together in a so-called “mini-bus” package. The suggestions largely reiterated the requests made in the president’s budget proposal, which Congress has largely ignored.

When Congress belatedly passed its fiscal 2018 spending bills in a combined $1.3 trillion omnibus package in March, President Trump threatened to veto the bill, despite the White House playing an active role in negotiations.

In the end, he reluctantly signed the bill, but vowed, “I will never sign another bill like this again.”

Congressional leadership is pursuing a strategy of grouping the 12 individual appropriations bills into several larger bills to fund the government in 2019. The Senate has not yet advanced its version of the bills in the House mini-bus, but is on schedule to do so.

If both chambers pass the legislation and send it to the president’s desk, it is unclear if Trump would sign it, though the letter did not threaten a veto.