House approves $1.3 trillion spending package for 2021

The House on Friday approved a $1.3 trillion package of spending bills for the 2021 fiscal year.

The package, passed in a largely party-line 217-197 vote, included the spending bills for defense; labor, health and human services, and education; commerce, justice and science; energy and water; financial services and general government; and transportation and housing and urban development.

The House has now approved all but two spending bills, though the remaining bills are not expected to receive floor consideration.

More than half the funds in the bill were devoted to defense. It includes a 3 percent pay increase for troops, $9.3 billion for 91 F-35 fighter jets, $22.3 billion for nine new Navy ships and $758 million to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on subcontractors in the defense industrial base.

The bill would also provide the Army with $1 million for renaming assets named for Confederate figures and block funding for President Trump’s border wall.

Democrats included significant spending on COVID-19-related issues in the labor and health bill, including $5 billion in emergency spending for the National Institutes of Health and $9 billion in emergency funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The commerce, justice and science bill includes funding for NASA and the National Science Foundation and would also provide nearly $600 million to implement a slew of law enforcement reforms in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

The energy and water portion ups funds for renewable energy and would bar funds for nuclear weapons testing, an idea Trump floated restoring for the first time in 28 years.

Other portions of the package funded election security to the tune of $500 million, upped spending for IRS enforcement and stripped restrictions on marijuana and abortion policy for the District of Columbia.

They added $26 billion to upgrade infrastructure, blocked a Trump administration rule barring undocumented immigrants from public housing and mandated masks on public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This package prioritizes the lives and livelihoods of the American people, and makes the strong investments needed to build a stronger future for every person,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)

Absent from the package for the second year in a row were bills covering homeland security and the legislative branch.

Democrats reversed course several times on whether to bring the controversial homeland security bill to the floor amid disagreements between the party’s more progressive ranks. Progressives want to  pull funding from agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But worries that the more progressive approach that helped advance it in the first place would put centrist Democrats up for reelection in a tough spot, alongside newer pressure from progressive leaders, led Democrats to scrap the bill from the package earlier this week.

The legislative branch bill was absent over disagreements on congressional pay.

Though many of the core elements in the bills were negotiated with Republicans and are expected to form the basis of a final compromise bill, the GOP objected to the bills on two fronts: spending and policy riders.

“Democrats, unfortunately, chose a deeply flawed approach in exercising this function for fiscal year 2021,” Appropriations Committee vice ranking member Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said.

“I remain concerned about the use of emergency-designated funds as a workaround and scheme to break the budget agreement between the two parties and the president,” Cole said, referencing the inclusion of nearly $250 billion emergency spending in Democratic spending proposals, which side-stepped the spending deal reached last summer.

Cole was filling in for the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who had to self-quarantine because she had flown next to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) shortly before he received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

While the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to stomach provisions restricting various Trump policies on abortion, immigration, and other hot-button issues, the upper chamber has been bogged in its own morass on funding the government.

Disagreements over whether to include police reform and additional COVID spending have led to an impasse in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has not released a single spending bill for 2021.

Without no deal likely, Congress is likely to pass a stopgap measure to keep the government funded and prevent a shutdown ahead of November’s elections.

The outcome of the election may influence whether the spending bills progress or are tossed aside until next year, when control of the House, Senate and White House may be different.

Rebecca Kheel contributed.

Tags Appropriations Budget Coronavirus Defense spending Donald Trump Kay Granger Louie Gohmert Military pay hike national debt Nita Lowey police reform Spending measures Tom Cole
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