House Republicans were preparing early afternoon Thursday on a massive $1.3 trillion budget bill released just Wednesday night, leaving it up to the Senate to avoid a government shutdown.
Republican congressional leaders are rushing to push through the 2,2322-page bill before government funding is set to expire at midnight Friday, which would cause yet another government shutdown.
The White House conveyed President Trump’s support for the deal in a statement Wednesday, though Trump griped about it on Twitter. The deal contains $1.6 billion for ‘physical borders and technology,’ but not all of that can be used on his border wall.
‘Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.’
Trump had initially demanded $25 billion for the border wall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, speaks with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., right, behind closed doors following a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring the Office of Strategic Services in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky – who helped bring about a brief government shutdown in February – could cause the plan to blow up if he decides to filibuster passage beyond the deadline.
Paul was dismissive about the deal on Twitter. ”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?’ Paul tweeted.
He kept up the criticism Thursday morning.
‘FYI- The 2200+ page, budget-busting Omnibus has been printing for two hours in my office and still isn’t done,’ Paul wrote.
MAYBE TRY DOUBLE-SIDED? Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said it took his staff two hours to print the bill. If he doesn’t agree to waive Senate procedures Friday, it could force a shutdown
‘Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties. $1.3 trillion. Busts budget caps. 2200 pages, with just hours to try to read it,’ he wrote in another post.
Another tweet featured Paul with a long face holding the entire bill in printed form.
Republicans will need Democratic support to get the deal through the Senate.
Further complicating matters is the funeral of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter, who was the top House Democrat on the Rules Committee. She died at 88. House members will be attending her funeral, creating a window when votes can’t occur if there is a snafu.
RISE AND SHINE: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (C) walks through Statuary Hall prior to gaveling open the House in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 22 March 2018. The house is planning to vote on the 1.3 trillion USD, 2,232-page ‘omnibus’ spending bill today so the Senate can take it up before the looming government shutdown on Friday
MEET THE NEW BOSS: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is met by reporters in the Capitol. He mocked the process that brought the massive bill toward a vote with barely any time to read it
Conservatives were already venting about the process, having taken control of Congress after attacking the way Democrats jammed through massive bills like Obamacare.
“This process looks really bad; it looks swampy,” Dan Holler, a spokesman for the conservative group Heritage Action, the Hill reported.
Congressional leaders have finalized a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill that substantially boosts military and domestic spending but leaves behind young immigrant ‘Dreamers,’ Trump some of his border wall money and takes only incremental steps to address gun violence.
As negotiators stumbled toward an end-of-the-week deadline to fund the government or face a federal shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan dashed to the White House amid concerns Trump’s support was wavering. Although some conservative Republicans balked at the size of the spending increases and the rush to pass the bill, the White House said the president backed the legislation.
Trump himself sounded less than enthused, tweeting late Wednesday: ‘Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.’
SPEED READ: The bill came in at 2,232 pages
THIS COULD BE A BARRIER: The deal provides $1.6 billion for ‘physical barriers and technology’ but only $641 million for Trump’s border wall
Talks had stretched into Wednesday evening before the 2,232-page text was finally released.
‘No bill of this size is perfect,’ Ryan said. ‘But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad.’
Leaders hoped to start voting as soon as Thursday. A stopgap measure may be needed to ensure federal offices aren’t hit with a partial shutdown at midnight Friday when funding for the government expires.
Negotiators have been working for days – and nights – on details of the bill, which is widely viewed as the last major piece of legislation likely to move through Congress in this election year. Lawmakers in both parties sought to attach their top priorities.
Two of the biggest remaining issues had been border wall funds and a legislative response to gun violence after the clamor for action following recent school shootings, including the one in Parkland, Florida.
On guns, leaders agreed to tuck in bipartisan provisions to bolster school safety funds and improve compliance with the criminal background check system for firearm purchases. The bill states that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do research on gun violence, though not advocacy, an idea Democrats pushed.
House Speaker Ryan met with the president this afternoon to discuss the emerging funding bill. ‘They had a good conversation about the wins delivered for the president, and he is supportive of the bill,’ said Ryan’s office
But there was no resolution for Dreamers, the young immigrants who have been living in the United States illegally since childhood but whose deportation protections are being challenged in court after Trump tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
Democrats temporarily shut down the government earlier this year as they fought for that protection. But the issue only rose to a discussion item when Trump made a late-hour push for a deal in exchange for $25 billion in border wall funds.
Instead, Trump is now poised to win $1.6 billion for barriers along the border, but none of it for the new prototypes he recently visited in California. Less than half the nearly 95 miles of border construction, including levees along the Rio Grande in Texas, would be for new barriers, with the rest for repair of existing segments.
In one win for immigrant advocates, negotiators rejected Trump’s plans to hire hundreds of new Border Patrol and immigration enforcement agents.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also discussed the deal with Trump Wednesday
‘We are disappointed that we did not reach agreement on Dreamer protections that were worthy of these patriotic young people,’ said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The emerging plan removes a much-debated earmark protecting money for a rail tunnel under the Hudson River. The item was a top priority of Trump’s most powerful Democratic rival, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, but Trump vowed to veto the bill over the earmark. Under the legislation, the project would remain eligible for funding, however, and a Schumer aide said it was likely to win well more than half of the $900 million sought for the project this year.
The core purpose of the bill is to increase spending for military and domestic programs that have been sharply squeezed under a 2011 agreement that was supposed to cap spending. It gives Trump a huge budget increase for the military, while Democrats scored wins on infrastructure and other domestic programs that they failed to get under President Barack Obama.
That largesse has drawn opposition from some fiscal conservatives and could make passage a potentially tricky process.
Last month, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul triggered a brief government shutdown over his objections to the deficit spending. On Wednesday, he tweeted his opposition to the emerging legislation, known as an ‘omnibus.’
‘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?’ Paul tweeted.
Most essential was support from Trump, who has been known to threaten to veto legislation even when his team is involved in the negotiations.
Word of Trump’s discontent sent Ryan to the White House, where he was invited to a face-to-face with the president, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the phone.
White House aides said the president’s support was never in doubt, but one senior White House official said the president was concerned that details of the package weren’t being presented as well as they could be, both to members of Congress and the public.
The group discussed how they could better sell the package, said the official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the private conversation.
The Capitol is seen before dawn Wednesday after a night of negotiating on the government spending bill, in Washington, March 21, 2018. Talks over a $1.3 trillion omnibus bill are almost complete as the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats ironed out deals on a first round of funding for President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., center, walks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., right, as they leave a news conference with Democratic leaders, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
‘The president and the leaders discussed their support for the bill,’ said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, adding that it would fund Trump priorities such as wall construction, add money to combat the opioid crisis and provide new infrastructure spending.
Both parties touted $4.6 billion in total funding to fight the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic, a $3 billion increase. More than $2 billion would go to strengthen school safety through grants for training, security measures and treatment for the mentally ill. Medical research at the National Institutes of Health, a longstanding bipartisan priority, would receive a record $3 billion increase to $37 billion. Funding was also included for election security ahead of the 2018 midterms.
Child care and development block grants would receive a huge $2.4 billion increase to $5.2 billion. And an Obama-era transportation grant program known as TIGER would see its budget tripled to $1.5 billion. Head Start for preschoolers would get a $610 million boost, while an additional $2.4 billion would go for child care grants.