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Yesterday, congressional leaders unveiled a $1.3 trillion spending, which comes with a fast-approaching deadline to avoid the third budget shutdown of the year (the only way things actually seem to get done in Washington these days). The deal will boost spending for military and domestic programs. It also puts a down payment on President Trump’s border wall, which, you know, Mexico is totally going to pay for, honest.
WHAT IT MEANS:
- From the NYT: “As part of the spending talks, congressional leaders worked in recent days to resolve disputes over issues like immigration, a wall on the southern border with Mexico, health care and a planned rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey that has drawn the ire of President Trump. As the negotiations wrapped up on Capitol Hill, the president himself emerged as a potential obstacle, waffling on Wednesday about whether he could support the final package in part because it lacked sufficient funding for his wall. To salvage the agreement, Speaker Paul D. Ryan went to the White House residence to meet with Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs chief, with Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, joining by telephone.”
- “The president appeared to endorse the deal late Wednesday night, even as he vented frustration about the compromises that made it possible. ‘Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming,” he wrote on Twitter. “Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year...most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.’”
- From Politico, here’s some of what made it into the bill: “The so-called omnibus would deliver a $143 billion spending boost across defense and domestic programs—the largest funding bump in recent years. … The bill would provide nearly $1.6 billion for border security, but not for an increase in detention beds or federal deportation agents, a key priority for Democrats in the talks. The deal includes $641 million for new fencing, including levees, but does not allocate money for a concrete wall. … Democrats won provisions expanding a tax subsidy for affordable housing — designed to shore up the low-income housing tax credit in the wake of the GOP tax law. … A compromise between Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta would prohibit employers from stealing workers' tips under a proposed DOL rule that would allow the redistribution of tip money to back-of-house workers.”
- And here’s some of what didn’t: “A bipartisan group of lawmakers fought for money for programs like cost-sharing subsidies and reinsurance to help avoid huge insurance premium hikes this fall. … Some Republicans want to scrap a provision in the tax code barring churches and other nonprofits from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Trump has repeatedly vowed to repeal it.”
- Also included in the budget deal is language clarifying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in fact allowed to study gun violence, though it cannot actively advocate for gun control. The CDC has not studies gun violence since the so-called Dickey Amendment passed in 1996 [The Hill]. This is a big win for U.S. Representative David Price, who has long argued for the restoration of federally funded gun-violence research.
- But the biggest omission is any relief for Dreamers, the young immigrants brought here illegally as children. Democrats wanted to protect them as part of the must-pass spending bill. Republicans refused. The Trump administration—which ended the DACA program that protected them from deportation last year, though that move has been held up by the courts—made a last-ditch effort for a short-term renewal of DACA, but only as bait for his border wall. From the AP: “The effort failed, and Trump ended up getting just $1.6 billion for his wall and other border security steps, a year’s worth of funds. That left prospects dim that Congress would act this year to renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, as Democrats eyeing a potential House takeover in November’s elections become increasingly resistant to helping Trump build his wall.”
The big selling point for Republicans is the massive boost in military funding,
as if the largest and most expensive military in the history of the planet was getting by on scraps these last few years. The big selling point for Dems is that it could have been a whole lot worse—they’ll get through this year, hopefully
win back the House, put an end to this border-wall nonsense, and force Trump to take action on Dreamers. That’s the plan, anyway.