- 21 марта, 16:09
- POLITICO. Top Stories
Congressional leaders on Wednesday night formally unveiled a mammoth spending bill that would deliver the largest funding boost to federal agencies in years — but with a tight 48-hour margin to pass it.
President Donald Trump, for now, appears grudgingly willing to support the measure, which is likely the last major piece of legislation he will sign before the midterm elections.
Congress must approve the roughly 2,232-page bill by midnight Friday to avert a third shutdown in as many months.
The so-called omnibus bill abandons many of the most controversial provisions lawmakers were trying to include in the must-pass bill — which had painfully stalled the bill’s release for days.
The bill will, however, fix a snafu in the GOP’s tax law — the so-called grain glitch — that farm state lawmakers were seeking. It also includes a narrow gun safety measure and a compromise on a New York infrastructure project that had become a lightning-rod issue with the president.
But the deal wasn't without its detractors — including Donald Trump himself. The president was unhappy that GOP leaders didn’t win more money for his border wall with Mexico or any new detention beds for undocumented immigrants and new deportation agents, according to three sources familiar with the White House’s thinking.
Speaker Paul Ryan headed to the White House to meet with the president Wednesday afternoon to discuss the omnibus; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fielded a phone call with Trump on the deal.
Soon after, the White House signaled in a Wednesday statement that Trump backs the package.
“The president had a discussion with Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell, where they talked about their shared priorities secured in the omnibus spending bill,” the press secretary said in a statement. “The president and the leaders discussed their support for the bill.”
Both parties' negotiators walked away with sales pitches for their rank-and-file after weeks of back-and-forth. Republicans secured an $80 billion annual increase for the Pentagon, its largest in 15 years, with a substantial 2.4 percent pay raise for the troops. Democrats sealed $21 billion for infrastructure projects, as well as hundreds of millions more for election security and FBI efforts to fight Russian cyberattacks.
Democrats successfully beat back the Trump administration’s calls to slash budgets for domestic programs like the college Pell Grants, the Environmental Protection Agency and public housing.
But the bill does follow Trump's calls to cut deep into foreign aid. It slashes hundreds of millions from the United Nations’ global peacekeeping missions, the United States Agency for International Development and other economic assistance efforts.
Conservatives, meanwhile, blasted the tentative agreement. They complained about requiring lawmakers to quickly vote on a bill that will increase the national debt soon after seeing it.
“Nobody knows what’s in it. I don’t know what’s in the damn thing,” complained Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “I have no intention of voting for this bill until I know everything that’s in it.”
He added: “Whoever came up with this isn’t qualified to run a food truck.”
Congressional leaders are hoping to avoid the need for a short-term spending bill to keep the government open for a few days beyond Friday. But if the spending bill is released Wednesday as planned, the House will likely vote on the measure Thursday, giving the Senate just one day to clear the deal before funding expires.
Under this timetable, any single senator could cause a brief government shutdown under Senate rules and push work into the weekend. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has pointedly refused to rule out doing so. He’s made no decision on whether to allow a speedy vote because he has not seen the bill, an aide said
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said Wednesday that a very brief continuing resolution could be necessary to avoid a shutdown.
"I could see a CR for a day," he told reporters.
The deal doesn’t include any sort of protection for so-called Dreamers, as Democrats had initially sought, or cuts to funding for sanctuary cities, as Republicans had wanted. The spending deal does include $1.6 billion for border security. But Democrats refused to allow any of that money to be used toward detention beds for undocumented immigrants or to hire new deportation agents, key GOP priorities. Republicans eventually gave up in trying.
The deal includes $641 million for new fencing, including levees, that Trump could tout as part of his border wall. But that’s a mere fraction of the $25 billion Trump initially wanted and that some Democrats once floated to Trump in return for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the House's chief spending leader, touted in a news release that the amount allows for “more than 90 miles of ‘border wall system,’ going beyond the Administration’s budget request for a total of 74 miles.”
Negotiators also agreed to a compromise of sorts on the Gateway project, a key priority for lawmakers from New York and New Jersey. Trump initially told those members that he would support their prized $900 million tunnel project. But then he grew angry with Schumer over immigration talks, withdrew that support and vowed to veto the bill if it included those funds.
The final deal doesn’t provide the specific funding for the project but does include funding increases for other federal transportation accounts, including Amtrak, that will allow tunnel construction to begin. And there will be more than $500 million available for Gateway this year that doesn’t require administration approval under the terms of the deal.
The project can also apply for billions more, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
"It’s troubling that we get a tunnel, but we don’t get a wall," House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said, noting the border wall funding had previously been appropriated. "The last time I checked, the president didn’t make any promises about getting a tunnel at any of his campaign stops."
Lawmakers gave up on efforts to stabilize Obamacare markets through subsidies known as cost-sharing reduction payments after both sides failed to settle a dispute over restrictions on abortion.
Likewise, the deal does nothing to protect special counsel Robert Mueller if he’s fired by Trump — as Schumer and Pelosi had wanted — but it does provide for an increase in funding to fight Russian hacking ahead of the November elections. The proposal includes an increase in the FBI’s budget to combat Russian cyberattacks this year and provides an additional $380 million for technology grants that will allow states to secure election systems.
In a last-minute deal, congressional leaders also agreed to add provisions that would improve the national background check system for gun purchases and provide safety grants to schools to guard against future mass shootings.
Negotiators also agreed to roll back the so-called Dickey amendment, which opponents say has had a chilling effect on federal gun violence research and barred the CDC from advocating gun control.
The gun issues remained a holdup in the talks throughout the week as Schumer pushed for more aggressive firearms restrictions, according to a source familiar with the talks. Sen. Chris Murphy, a co-sponsor of the Fix NICS bill with Sen. John Cornyn, personally made the case to Democratic leadership to accept the compromise, even if it didn’t go as far as they wanted, the person said.
House conservatives were also furious that GOP leaders agreed to include the Fix NICS provision in the bill. Members of the Freedom Caucus said they had been promised that the provision — favored by Trump and a bipartisan group of lawmakers — would only be considered alongside a gun-rights friendly measure to honor concealed carry permits across state lines.
"What we were told by our leadership is directly opposite what is happening today," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said during a roundtable with reporters Wednesday.
House Freedom Caucus leaders voted for the provision in December but only because it also included a rider allowing all conceal-carry permit holders to carry their weapons across any state lines. The bill would have essentially created a universal conceal-carry permit that would trump state laws that ban hidden firearms, Democrats argue. Members of the conservative group, however, were likely to vote against the massive spending bill anyway, so leadership probably doesn’t need their votes.
Congressional leaders also reached an agreement on one of the final sticking points, according to two sources familiar with the issue: a deal to fix a glitch in the GOP’s tax law in exchange for a temporary boost in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
The grain glitch lowers the tax bills of farmers who sell grain to cooperatives but at the expense of other farmers. Democrats at one point had sworn off allowing Republicans to iron out problems in their partisan tax bill passed last December.
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.