- Congress is racing to avoid another government shutdown on Friday.
- Leaders have agreed on the outlines of a spending deal to avert a shutdown.
- While the bill would provide funding for a slew of programs, it is also notable for what it does not include.
In what now seems like a monthly tradition in Washington, Congress is barreling toward a government-shutdown deadline, and leaders are banking on a massive last-minute deal to avoid any disruption.
After February’s short-lived shutdown produced the outline of a two-year spending agreement, congressional leaders are set to roll out a more detailed omnibus spending package on Wednesday, two days before the shutdown deadline.
The bill would allocate nearly $1.3 trillion of federal funding over the next two years and includes money for other legislative projects favored by both parties.
All the major issues have not been ironed out, a source familiar with the talks said. But congressional leaders from both parties are wrapping up the negotiations Wednesday in a snowy Washington.
Here’s a rundown of some of the major parts of the deal, according to a source:
- $1.3 billion in new funding for border security, with serious limitations: The funding couldn’t be used for a wall along the US-Mexico border — only fencing similar to what exists. Additionally, the funding couldn’t be used to hire agents for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, who are not stationed on the border.
- Increased funding to protect election systems: The bill will include $380 million in grants to states to safeguard voting systems and an additional $307 million to the FBI above the administration’s request to combat Russian cyberattacks.
- $2.8 billion to combat the opioid crisis: The bill will include $500 million for the National Institutes of Health to research opioid addiction and $1.4 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- $10 billion in new funding for infrastructure: Some key areas of new funding include $600 million for night high-speed internet development, a $2.6 billion increase for the Federal Highway Administration, and $1.2 billion more for the Federal Railroad Administration.
- Increased funding for the 2020 census: The bill will include a $1.3 billion increase in funding to prepare for it — twice what the Trump administration requested in its budget.
- A fix to the GOP tax law: The bill will contain a fix to the so-called “grain glitch” that was created by the recently-passed Republican tax bill. The mistake would have been seriously disruptive to the agricultural industry and the GOP was attempting to get a fix for the past two months. In exchange for agreeing to the fix, Democrats secured more funding for the Low-Income Housing Credit that helps stares and cities build affordable housing.
Other legislative priorities like a fix for the national gun background check system and clarification of language that blocks research into gun violence were also still being negotiated.
Both parties were fighting for significant legislative priorities to be part of the final package but did not appear to make the final cut. Some omissions include President Donald Trump’s call — echoed by House conservatives — to defund so-called sanctuary cities, as well as a centrist plan to provide funding to shore up the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces.
Reports suggested that Trump may not have been happy with the amount of funding in the package for a border wall — the White House wanted as much as $25 billion. But following a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the White House said the president supported the deal.
“The President and the leaders discussed their support for the bill, which includes more funds to rebuild the military, such as the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade, more than 100 miles of new construction for the border wall and other key domestic priorities, like combatting the opioid crisis and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,” the statement said.
Ryan’s office also echoed the White House, saying that the meeting was designed to walk the president through the bill and that Trump liked the deal.
“The speaker met with the president this afternoon to discuss the emerging funding bill,” a Ryan spokesperson said. “They had a good conversation about the wins delivered for the president, and he is supportive of the bill.”
If the bill is released on Wednesday and the House passes it on Thursday, a single senator could delay its consideration on Friday until after the shutdown deadline at midnight. Such a scenario would be similar to Sen. Rand Paul’s one-man shutdown in February that forced a roughly six-hour lapse in funding.