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Negotiators in the U.S. Congress reached a deal late on Sunday on around $1 trillion in federal funding that would avert a government shutdown later this week, while handing President Donald Trump a down payment on his promised military build-up.
The full House of Representatives and Senate must still approve the bipartisan pact, which would be the first major legislation to clear Congress since Trump became president on Jan. 20.
Prompt passage of the legislation was expected this week.
The funds, which should have been locked into place seven months ago with the start of fiscal 2017 on Oct. 1, would pay for an array of federal programs from airport and border security operations to soldiers’ pay, medical research, foreign aid, space exploration, and education.
“The agreement will move the needle forward on conservative priorities and will ensure that the essential functions of the federal government are maintained, said Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee.
What the budget deal won’t do is provide funding to start construction President Trump’s desired border wall before the end of the U.S. government’s 2017 fiscal year on September 30, 2017. Instead, any funding for that initiative would be negotiated as part of the federal government’s 2018 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2017.
That doesn’t mean however that President Trump is walking away empty-handed. The new budget deal would immediately increase funding for border enforcement activities.
Several other important White House initiatives were rejected by the Republican and Democratic negotiators, including money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump has argued is needed to stop illegal immigrants and drugs.
Instead, congressional negotiators settled on $1.5 billion more for border security, including more money for new technology and repairing existing infrastructure, the aide said.
Other key points in the deal include a commitment from President Trump to continue subsidy payments to health insurance companies that charge below-cost premiums on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, where the corporate welfare is expected to keep the program from failing before the end of the government’s 2017 fiscal year.
The U.S. government is also providing a bailout to Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program, assisting that U.S. territory’s government as it officially enters into Title III bankruptcy proceedings.
The budget deal is unusual because it suggests a break in the kind of political brinksmanship that has come to typify Federal Government Shutdown Theater, where no deals are made until the last possible minute. Commenting at Hot Air, Andrew Malcolm is amazed that the political negotiations didn’t drag out longer.
Sitting down? This is not The Onion.
Republicans and Democrats have reached bipartisan agreement on a spending bill that would last not for a week or month. But for five whole months. This would seem to avoid a partial government shutdown for now.
Yes, you’re right, in a properly-functioning Congress, budgets would be crafted for an entire fiscal year, allowing agencies to plan ahead. But, hey, let’s be thankful for five-month blessings. The last, last-minute spending agreement to come out of Congress was last Friday. And it lasts for seven whole days.
The new interim budget agreement, announced late Sunday night, involves about $1 trillion in spending. It’s something called “a compromise.” You’ve rarely seen such a thing on Capitol Hill in recent years.
Malcolm goes on to note that the “compromise” involves an agreement between politicians to spend more tax dollars, rather than less. So at least some things haven’t changed about how Washington D.C. operates.