House approves massive spending bill, moves to Senate to avert a government shutdown (Updated)

The U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 256-167 (proceeding under the TARGET Act) has approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert a government shutdown and to fund federal agencies through Sept. 30, sending the measure over to the Senate ahead of a midnight Friday deadline.

Arizona Delegation: YES McSally, O’Halleran, Sinema; NO Biggs, Gallego, Gosar, Grijalva, Schweikert.

The Senate is expected to vote late on Thursday or Friday, before current government funding expires at midnight on Friday. There could still be another brief Aqua Buddha shutdown from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) desperately seeking attention.

You can read the massive 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill to search for what is hidden in it.

Here are a few highlights of what is (and is not) in the spending bill compiled from several sources including the Washington Post, Politico, and Vox.com.

OVERALL SPENDING

Defense spending generally favored by Republicans is set to rise $80 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware.

Domestic spending generally favored by Democrats is set to rise by $63 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including increases in funding for infrastructure, medical research, veterans programs and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Civilian federal employees get a 1.9 percent pay raise.

IMMIGRATION/DACA

Congress again failed to come to any compromise agreement on legislation to protect the DREAMers from President Trump’s executive order ending DACA, and DREAMers remain in limbo at the mercy of the federal courts. GOP leaders demanded that any deportation relief for young undocumented immigrants under DACA be kept out of the spending bill. This was a missed opportunity to get this issue resolved, after Trump flipped from supporting a “bill of love” to wanting to deport DACA DREAMers as a hostage negotiation strategy for his “big beautiful wall.”

The bill also does not defund “sanctuary cities” that attempt to protect unauthorized immigrant residents from federal immigration officials, despite Trump’s last-minute push to defund the cities as part of the omnibus.

BORDER WALL

President Trump wanted $25 billion of funding for his “big beautiful wall.” He only got $1.6 billion for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, but with some serious strings attached. The barriers authorized to be built under the act must be “operationally effective designs” already deployed as of last March, meaning none of President Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” can be built. The bill also does not include an increase in detention beds or federal deportation agents, a key priority for Democrats in the talks. Trump fail!

OBAMACARE FIX

Left out of the bill was a health-care measure sought by GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) that would have allowed states to establish high-risk pools to help cover costly insurance claims while restoring certain payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act. Trump, who ended the “cost-sharing reduction” payments in the fall, supported the Collins-Alexander language. Social conservatives demanded new restrictions on abortion, an expansion f the Hyde Amendment , a poison pill that killed the Collins-Alexander plan. There were also disagreements about whether the stabilization measures would hurt more than they help.

So Sen. Susan Collins traded her vote on the GOP tax bill last December for assurances about her half-ass “Obamacare” fixes, and got nothing in return. Susan Collins sabotages her own Obamacare stabilization effort with abortion poison pill. Collins fail!

The bill also does not do anything to target Planned Parenthood, a frequent target of social conservatives.

EDUCATION

The final spending basically does the opposite of everything Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asked for. Her department’s funding goes up by $3.9 billion, but she gets zero of the dollars DeVos wanted for the school choice voucher program. There’s a $700 million increase in funding for a mental health program that will fund school counselors. There’s $40 million for a D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant that DeVos wanted to eliminate. The Office for Civil Rights, after-school programs and early-childhood education programs all get money DeVos said she didn’t want. DeVos fail!

OPIOID ADDICTION

The bill increases funding to tackle the opioid epidemic, a boost that lawmakers from both parties hailed as a win. The legislation allocates more than $4.65 billion across agencies to help states and local governments on efforts toward prevention, treatment and law enforcement initiatives. That represents a $3 billion increase over 2017 spending levels.

GUN SAFETY

The bill includes the Fix NICS Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that is used to screen U.S. gun buyers. It provides for incentives and penalties to encourage federal agencies and states to send records to the federal database.

Language in the report accompanying the bill clarifying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can, in fact, conduct research into gun violence. A long-standing rider known as the Dickey Amendment, which states that no CDC funds “may be used to advocate or promote gun control,” has been interpreted in the past to bar such research.

The bipartisan STOP School Violence Act of 2018 would create a $50 million-a-year grant program for training to recognize signs of gun violence.

Democrats did not get raising the minimum age to buy an assault weapon from 18 to 21 years of age. Republicans did not get concealed-carry reciprocity, a top NRA priority.

The children are descending on Washington, D.C. this weekend for the March For Our Lives. They will not be satisfied with these incremental measures approved by Congress. They want bold, serious action.

TAXES

The so-called grain glitch, a provision in the new GOP tax law that favored farmer-owned cooperatives over traditional agriculture corporations by providing a significantly larger tax benefit for sales to cooperatives, is undone in the bill.

In exchange for the grain glitch fix, Democrats won provisions expanding a tax subsidy for affordable housing — designed to shore up the low-income housing tax credit in the wake of the GOP tax law.

‘TIP POOLING’

In December, the Trump Labor Department proposed a rule that would allow employers such as restaurant owners to “pool” their employees’ tips and redistribute them as they saw fit — including, potentially, to themselves. That generated a bipartisan outcry, and the bill spells out explicitly in law that tip pooling is not permitted: “An employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purposes, including allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips, regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit.”

IRS

Despite the administration’s attempts to slash its budget, lawmakers grant $11.431 billion to the nation’s tax collectors, a $196 million year-to-year increase and $456 million more than Trump requested.

The federal ban on tax-exempt churches engaging in political activity, known as the Johnson Amendment, will continue, despite attempts by Trump and GOP lawmakers to rescind it.

PUBLIC BROADCASTING

Big Bird lives! Lawmakers agreed not to cut funding for the nation’s public television and radio networks. Government funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will remain at $465 million — the same level as past years.

ARTS ENDOWMENTS

Federal funding for the arts goes up, despite GOP attempts to slash it. The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities will see funding climb to $152.8 million each, a $3 million increase over the last fiscal year. Trump proposed eliminating the endowments.

CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE (CRS)

The Congressional Research Service now must publish online all the reports it prepares for lawmakers. Researchers rejoice! Hallelujah!

SECRET SERVICE

The Secret Service will be required to release an annual report on travel costs for people under their protection, specifically adult children of the president. This is designed to expose how much taxpayers are spending to safeguard Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump on their overseas business trips.

ELECTION SECURITY

The bill provides $380 million to the federal Election Assistance Commission to make payments to states to improve election security and technology, and the FBI is set to receive $300 million in counterintelligence funding to combat Russian hacking.

Not nearly enough, and too little too late.

You can add your own special interest spending measures in the comments.

UPDATE: Senate approves $1.3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump. The New York Times reports, Spending Plan Passed by Congress Is a Rebuke to Trump. Here’s Why.

The self-proclaimed “great negotiator” got entirely snookered on his border wall. He apparently just figured it out. So naturally, the impulsive man-child Trump Says He May Veto Spending Bill, Risking Government Shutdown:

President Trump threatened on Friday to veto a $1.3 trillion spending package just hours before the government was set to shut down for lack of funds, lashing out over Congress’s failure to fund his long-promised border wall.

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He was referring partly to the fact that he failed to reach a deal with Democrats to include provisions in the spending measure that would preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program he rescinded last fall that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to apply for permits to work legally and avoid deportation.

But the president was most angry about the lack of funding in the bill for a massive wall on the nation’s southern border that he has billed as the centerpiece of his crackdown on illegal immigrants. The measure includes nearly $1.6 billion for border security — including new technology and repairs to existing barriers — but not Mr. Trump’s “big beautiful wall,” as he falsely claimed on Twitter on Wednesday.

It was the latest instance of the president parting ways with his advisers in a sudden reversal that could have serious consequences. The measure cleared Congress early Friday morning and, while Mr. Trump had made plain he was unhappy with some aspects of it, his senior advisers spent Thursday telling reporters that the president would sign it.

A veto would almost certainly shut down the government at midnight, just as hundreds of thousands of teenagers and adults are slated to descend on Washington for a gun control march. With Congress on spring recess for two weeks starting Monday, many lawmakers had already departed Washington early Friday.

Beyond the practical risks, the optics of the last-minute presidential outburst held peril for Mr. Trump. Unlike recent government shutdowns that stemmed from Congress’s inability to pass spending bills, this one would be precipitated by the president alone.

If Mr. Trump were to veto the new spending bill, he would be defying Republican and Democratic leaders alike.

The Trump Shutdown clown show.

UPDATE: Trump caves! Trump Signs Spending Bill, Reversing Veto Threat and Avoiding Government Shutdown. A golf weekend ar Mar-a-Lago was more important.

One response to “House approves massive spending bill, moves to Senate to avert a government shutdown (Updated)

  1. For Sure Not Tom

    Excellent post, Mr. Meanie.

    My special interest want is something that won’t cost a dime and would actually help the economy: decriminalize the DREAM’ers.

    Not getting funding for his big, beautiful wall is HUGE.

    I suspect his base will start to wake up to the con. The Great Dealmaker (he’s not) can’t even get his signature campaign promise done.

    Blue Wave 2018.