Congressional leaders on Wednesday reached agreement on a $1.3 trillion plan to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, pouring new money into gun background checks and anti-opioid efforts but limiting President Trump’s calls for investment in stiffer immigration enforcement.
The measure includes new money to prevent cyberattacks and boost election security ahead of November’s midterm elections, fixes a flaw in last year’s tax-cut bill, and continues pouring money into research at the National Institutes of Health.
At 2,232 pages, the bill spends an average of nearly $600 million per page. The text was released just after 8 p.m. Wednesday, giving lawmakers less than 52 hours to pass it before a shutdown deadline Friday.
GOP leaders must try to quell a conservative rebellion over the size of the spending and the lack of major conservative policy wins.
The White House gave President Trump’s stamp of approval to the “omnibus” bill, saying he had been kept abreast by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“The president and the leaders discussed their support for the bill, which includes more funds to rebuild the military, such as the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade, more than 100 miles of new construction for the border wall and other key domestic priorities, like combatting the opioid crisis and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
But the border wall money came with serious strings, according to congressional aides.
About half of the fencing is new, while the rest is replacement for current outdated sections. And the bill specifically prohibits use of designs based on prototypes build as part of Mr. Trump’s border wall contest.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also touted the fact that the deal does not include a boost in funding for deportation officers or detention beds.
“Thanks to the leadership of Democrats, the omnibus proposal contains bold investments in our veterans, the NIH, community health centers, and families fighting opioid addiction,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
Mr. Trump was also likely to fall short on his demands for a surge in prosecutors to handle the deportation workload, sources said.
The bill doesn’t include protections for illegal immigrant “Dreamers” who have tentative legal status under the Obama-era DACA program — an absence that’s likely to cost the support of a number of Democrats who’d said full legal status was a precondition for their vote.
“Immigrants and Latinos got run over by the omnibus and we have nothing in return,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, Illinois Democrat.
But the legislation does tackle another major political hotspot, attaching legislation to encourage states and federal agencies to submit more records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used to block gun purchases by felons, the mentally disabled, spouse abusers and other banned buyers.
Republican leaders are hoping to sway their troops to support the bill by pointing to an $80 billion boost in spending for the Pentagon, which will total about $700 billion for fiscal year 2018.
“With the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years, this critical legislation begins to reverse the damage of the last decade and allows us to create a 21st-century fighting force,” Mr. Ryan said. “This legislation fulfills our pledge to rebuild the United States military.”
The bill also includes another $63 billion in domestic spending increases sought by Democrats, for a total of $600 billion.
Congress agreed last month on the $143 billion funding boost above spending caps set by Republicans and President Obama in a 2011 debt deal.
The final negotiations were hammered out by the top four congressional leaders: Mr. Ryan, Mr. McConnell, Mrs. Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
Lawmakers — who are already nearly six months late in writing the bill — had hoped to release it earlier this week, but had to take extra time to resolve disagreements on immigration, guns, abortion, and other items.
Mr. Trump, who had pushed for $25 billion for the border wall, secured about $1.6 billion in border security funding. About $641 million would be for new construction on fencing and levee walls, with additional money that could go toward replacing existing structures.
That includes 47 miles of new barriers and 48 miles of upgrades to existing fences or vehicle blockades.
Another sticking point was whether to provide about $900 million in federal funding for the Gateway project, which includes plans to upgrade New York-New Jersey subway tunnels. It was supported by northeastern lawmakers, including Mr. Schumer, but opposed by Mr. Trump.
The final result was something of a compromise, with potential money made available for the project from other transportation funds without a specific earmark.
The deal also left out conservative priorities like defunding Planned Parenthood and zeroing out federal funding for “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“Planned Parenthood gets money; the unconstitutional NICS program gets money; Gateway project gets money,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican. “The American taxpayers get a trillion-dollar deficit and no money for the wall.”
The bill retains longstanding language barring federal health agencies from funding efforts that advocate or promote gun control.
But it also clarifies that the ban does not extend to gun violence research in general, in a nod to gun control advocates who argue the language has still had a “chilling” effect on federally-funded gun studies.
Some lawmakers had also pushed to attach new Obamacare-related subsidies for insurance companies in an attempt to hold down premiums and defray costs associated with covering lower-income and higher-risk individuals.
But those negotiations stalled out over a disagreement regarding proposed abortion-related restrictions in the measure.
Whether Congress will meet the Friday deadline remains iffy.
While leaders can push the bill through the House on sheer numbers, Senate rules would allow for a single senator to delay a final vote for days, giving all sides more time to study the legislation.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky helped send the government into a brief, overnight shutdown last month on a stopgap spending bill.
He said Wednesday he was undecided on whether he would try something similar on the new spending bill — but took a swipe at the emerging plan.
“It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni…wait, what?” Mr. Paul said on Twitter.
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