Congressional Republicans and Democrats forged a hard-won agreement Sunday night on a huge $1 trillion-plus spending bill that would fund the day-to-day operations of virtually every federal agency through September, denying President Donald Trump funding for a border wall and rejecting his cuts to popular domestic programs. Aides to lawmakers involved in the talks announced the agreement after weeks of negotiations. It’s expected to be made public Sunday night.
The catchall spending bill would be the first major piece of bipartisan legislation to advance during Trump’s short tenure in the White House. While losing on the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump won a $15 billion down payment on his request to strengthen the military. The measure funds the remainder of the 2017 budget year, rejecting cuts to popular domestic programs targeted by Trump, such as medical research and infrastructure grants. Trump obtained $1.5 billion for border security measures such as additional detention beds.
The measure is assured of winning bipartisan support in votes this week; the House and Senate have until midnight Friday to pass the measure to avert a government shutdown. It’s unclear how much support the measure will receive from GOP conservatives and how warmly it will be received by the White House. Among the final issues resolved was a Democratic request to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico with its Medicaid burden, a top priority of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. Pelosi and other Democrats came up short of the $500 million or so they had sought but won $295 million for the island, more than Republicans had initially offered.
Democrats were successful in repelling many conservative policy ”riders,” though House Republicans succeeded in funding another round of private school vouchers for students in Washington, D.C.’s troubled school system. Democrats praised a $2 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health – a rejection of the steep cuts proposed by Trump – as well as additional funding to combat opioid abuse, fund Pell Grants for summer school, and additional transit funding. Senate forces, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and several Appalachia region Democrats, won a provision to extend health care for 22,000 retired Appalachian coal miners and their families.
Democratic votes will be needed to pass the measure even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress. The minority party has been actively involved in the talks, which appear headed to produce a lowest common denominator measure that won’t look too much different than the deal that could have been struck on President Barack Obama’s watch last year. The measure also taps $68 million to reimburse New York City and other local governments for costs involved in protecting Trump Tower and other properties, a priority of lawmakers such as Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.