Lawmakers pile on the spending in $1.4 trillion deal

Lawmakers added $24.7 billion in emergency and “off-book” spending to a nearly $1.4 trillion package as they sought to settle differences and finish the congressional appropriations bills for the fiscal year.

The White House and Congress had reached a $1.37 trillion deal in July that increased defense spending by $22 billion and domestic spending by $12 billion.

But the final deal brings the sum total to $1.394 trillion and includes emergency funding for natural disasters, the 2020 census, medical funding and other priorities.

“I’m pleased that we have reached a bipartisan agreement that will keep government open, provide the certainty of full-year funding and make strong investments in key priorities for American communities,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

“With higher spending levels in line with the bipartisan budget agreement, we are scaling up funding for priorities that will make our country safer and stronger and help hardworking families get ahead,” she added.

The plus-ups have earned consternation from deficit watchers who warned about the deficit-financed spending increases. The deficit is on track to surpass $1 trillion for the first time since 2012 this year.  

Negotiators added the sweeteners after seeing their talks stall since July. The two sides were divided over a number of high-profile issues, including President Trump’s proposed border wall. Two stopgap measures were needed to keep the government open as talks continued.

On most of the controversial issues, appropriators reached a deal by leaving the status quo in place.

The bill provides $1.375 billion for border barriers, the same amount in last year’s bill. Similar restrictions on the specifications and locations of the barrier are also included in this year’s package.

Trump had requested $5 billion for the wall plus another $3.6 billion to backfill military construction funds he had reprogrammed for the wall.

The bill did not impose restrictions on Trump’s use of emergency funding, which has recently been blocked by the courts, but it also did not backfill the military construction funds.

The number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds, a major source of contention in the talks, will remain stable, as will the overall funding level for Customs and Border Patrol.

The 12 spending bills, which must be signed into law before midnight on Friday to avert a shutdown, also included a slew of new provisions Democrats and Republicans had battled over for months.

Democrats highlighted $25 million for gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control, a 3.1 percent pay raise for both the military and federal civilian employees, and $425 million in election security grants.

The legislation would give $7.6 billion to the 2020 census.

Republicans were able to block abortion-related riders that Democrats had hoped would head off Trump’s tough new restrictions on abortion providers. Those restrictions had led to Planned Parenthood dropping Title X federal funding.

Some 100,000 coal miners will see their pensions and health care shored up in the bill.

“We have honored the promise this country made to them back in 1946,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

“I look forward to voting for this crucial bill later this week and sending it to the President so he can sign it into law and provide some well-deserved peace of mind to these great Americans that have done everything this country has asked of them,” he added.

The House is expected to vote on the bills in two packages on Tuesday before sending them to the Senate for passage and Trump’s signature ahead of Friday’s shutdown deadline.

One measure will include the defense; homeland security; commerce, justice and science; and financial services spending packages and will cost $860.3 billion. 

The second will contain the 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 legislative branch spending bills and will cost $534.4 billion.

Several other significant bills will pass with the spending packages, including a bill to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21, the elimination of several taxes associated with Obamacare, retirement legislation and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Updated at 5:33 p.m.

Tags Appropriations Budget Donald Trump Joe Manchin Nita Lowey Shutdown
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