Capitol Correspondence - 08.27.18

Senate Passes Large Spending Bill that Funds Two-Thirds of Government

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According to Politico:

“The Senate overwhelmingly passed an $857 billion spending package that Republican leaders are counting on to convince President Donald Trump to back down from threats of a government shutdown in September.

The package, an uncommon bipartisan truce to fund two-thirds of government operations, was strategically crafted to ward off a presidential veto. But the odds remain long that the legislation, H.R. 6157 (115), will even make it to the White House, with just 11 working days left for House and Senate lawmakers to merge opposing versions of the bills — and get Trump’s approval — before funding runs out on Sept. 30.


The two bills in the package, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “hugely important,” would fund the departments of Defense, Labor, Education and HHS. The legislation includes victories for both parties, like the largest military pay raise in nearly a decade and an expansion of programs to counter opioid addiction.


Capitol Hill leaders say they haven’t received concrete assurances that Trump will sign any of the fiscal 2019 bills without a promise for $5 billion in border wall funding. But Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has argued that the Senate’s progress will convince Trump to sign at least the two biggest measures — Defense and Labor-HHS-Education — by the Sept. 30 deadline.


In a win for the president, the Senate’s bill would deliver a $20.4 billion increase for the Pentagon, lifting its budget to a near-historic high. The measure would also fund a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops and would pay for 6,961 additional soldiers.


HHS would see a $2.3 billion boost, including a 5.4 percent increase for the National Institutes of Health. Education programs would get a $541 million boost, while the Labor Department’s budget would remain flat.


Senate lawmakers are now expected to enter into conference negotiations with their House counterparts to reconcile the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills. Lawmakers will have roughly five weeks to hash out differences in competing versions of the measures.”

The Senate’s rapid pace is noteworthy – the Senate passed nine of twelve spending bills through regular order for the first time in over a decade.