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New 2020 budget has $1.4 billion for border wall

Trump NDAA 2019 Signing Ceremony (Fort Drum Public Affairs/WikiCommons)
December 17, 2019

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have both voted to pass a pair of spending bills that include bipartisan compromises to prevent a government shutdown — which also includes $1.4 billion in border wall funding.

The two parts of the funding package include one bill for domestic programs and a second which sets out $738 billion in military funding, the Associated Press reported. The two bills combine for an estimated total of $1.4 trillion in government funding, according to the Associated Press

The defense portion of the bill includes appropriations for several of Trump’s priorities, including about $1.4 billion more in funding for wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, along with an agreement by Democrats agreements to drop a provision blocking Trump from transferring additional Pentagon funds to the wall construction.

With both the House and Senate having passed the bills, they will continue on to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign the measures this week.

“The president is poised to sign it and to keep the government open,” said White House advisor Kellyanne Conway.

The defense bill saw some protracted negotiations as both Democratic and Republican lawmakers weighed compromises to pass the spending through a divided Congress.

“It’s one of the few authorization bills that does pass year after year. And that’s because everyone knows how important it is. It usually doesn’t get bogged down in partisan fighting,” said Senator James Inhofe, R-OK, the Armed Services Committee Chairman. “This year, the process of getting to a final conference report was certainly tougher than most. It took a few months of hard-fought negotiations, but the end result is a great bill that we can all be proud to support.”

The Democrat-controlled House passed the domestic funding portion on a 297-120 vote. About a third of the Democratic proponents for the domestic funding then defected on the military portion, which passed on a 280-138 vote. Many Democratic lawmakers were reportedly unhappy with provisions the wall funding provisions.

By contrast, the Republican-controlled Senate passed the defense spending bill on a vote of 86-8.

“It’s true that there are a lot of good things and Democratic victories in the spending agreement. I think everybody appreciates those,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “What members of the Hispanic Caucus are concerned with is the wall money, the high level of detention beds, and most of all with the ability of the president to transfer money both to wall and to detention beds in the future

Lawmakers negotiating the funding dropped provisions involving transgender military service members as well as regulations on toxic chemicals used in firefighting foam on military bases. Lawmakers in both parties did pass a bipartisan issue in the repeal of the so-called “widow’s” tax that applies to military death benefits.

“It is safe to say that many have misgivings about one provision or another, but there are so many other positive provisions in the bill that it is a legislative success … that helps the military and the American people,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI.

Senate Democrats also retracted proposals by the House to restrict Trump from waging war against Iran without Congress’ approval. The restrictions on Trump’s ability to wage war included bans on the use of submarine-launched nuclear weapons and U.S. military assistance to Saudi-led forces fighting Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.