It’s almost done. After weeks of closed-door negotiations and days of extended haggling, congressional leaders said they had all but completed a massive $1.3 trillion spending deal to fund the government through September. The language of the bill is being finalized, with the text due to be released Wednesday. For real this time.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) visited the White House Wednesday afternoon to allay President Trump’s concerns about the deal, The Washington Post reported. After Trump met with Ryan and spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by phone, the White House and a Ryan spokesman signaled that the president approved of the deal.
But House conservatives expressed disappointment with the package and are expected to oppose it because it increases federal spending. And many House Democrats are likely to vote against it since it does not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
If the House approves the bill Thursday, the Senate would have a day to pass it, leaving open the possibility that a short-term continuing resolution would be needed to avoid a brief government shutdown.
What’s in the Spending Bill
“In the broadest strokes, the bill gives Republican a major win by delivering an $78 billion increase in military spending over 2017 levels, while Democrats won a $52 billion increase for domestic programs,” The Washington Post reported.
But differences over a number of smaller provisions and details had proven difficult to resolve in recent days. In the end, the bill will reportedly include:
- $1.6 billion for a border “wall” with Mexico, far less than the $25 billion Trump had sought — and the money carries restrictions. “Most of the funding, officials said, can be used only for repairs or for ‘secondary’ barriers along border stretches where there is already a wall,” the Post reported. “The rest can be used for 33 miles of new barriers, but there are restrictions on the type: Only levees or existing ‘bollard’ fencing can be built, rather than the concrete prototypes Trump appears to favor”
- A fix for the “grain glitch” in the GOP tax bill that gave farmers who sell grain to cooperatives an advantage over other farmers
- Bipartisan legislation to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun buyers and a provision to allow federal money to be used for research into gun violence
- Some $687 million in funding to combat election interference from Russia or others.
What’s Not in the Spending Bill
Several of the most contentious provisions were dropped from the bill as negotiations dragged on. They include:
- A bipartisan Obamacare stabilization package
- A DACA deal to protect immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors
- A proposed $900 million in directed money for the $30 billion Gateway project to build a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey. Trump had threatened to veto the bill if that money was in it, but the deal “does include funding increases for other federal transportation accounts, including Amtrak, that will allow tunnel construction to begin,” Politico reported. “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.”
- Provisions protecting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which Democrats had sought.