By Jennifer Scholtes
May 04, 2017
The Senate passed a more than $1 trillion spending bill Thursday to fund the federal government through September, preventing a government shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline.
The 79-18 vote sends the legislation off to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it despite grumbling that he didn’t come out a winner among Washington scorekeepers.
Leaders from both sides of the aisle are celebrating the deal, which revamps funding levels across federal agencies, rather than continuing old allocations under the kind of stopgap measures they passed in September, December and again last week to buy more time for negotiations.
“Because of the hard work from both chambers and both sides of the aisle, we have a funding bill before us that can make many important and positive impacts in the lives of the people we represent,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. He praised the inclusion of funding to combat opioid addiction, promote school choice efforts and permanently extend health care benefits for certain retired coal miners.
Although the legislation is the product of a bipartisan compromise leaders reached over the weekend, partisan acrimony has followed as both Democrats and Republicans have sought to brand the bill as a victory of their own.
Escalating that hostility, the White House held a series of press conferences early in the week, attempting to claim the spending legislation as a “win” for the president and accusing Democrats of unsportsmanlike behavior for celebrating the fact that the final deal does not include money to fulfill Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, $18 billion in domestic cuts he proposed or Republican policy language to ban federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Republicans House Leaders hold a news conference to speak out against the democratic health care plan in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol, July 15, 2009. LtoR: Mike Pence, R-IN., Kevin Brady, R-TX., John Boehner, R-OH., and Eric Cantor, R-VA. (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Even as leaders cross the finish line on the fiscal 2017 package, the hard feelings are setting a harsh tone for negotiations on spending legislation lawmakers must complete to fund the government beyond September.
Personally casting an ominous cloud, Trump tweeted earlier this week that “our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” And while OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said he does not anticipate a shutdown in September, he warned that “if the Democrats aren’t going to behave any better than they have in the last couple of days, it may be inevitable.”
Republicans are likely to remain reliant on Democratic votes to pass spending bills in either chamber — as was illustrated by the final passage tallies this week.
Just 131 Republicans voted in favor of passing the spending package in the House, more than 80 votes short of a majority. Democrats, meanwhile, overwhelmingly voted in support of funding the government, with 178 yeas and 15 nays.
“The Tea Party wing of the Republican party … are the ones that you can thank for this, in the sense that they won’t vote for anything. And they therefore made it essential for their leadership to come to Democrats,” Rep. David Price of North Carolina, a senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, told POLITICO after voting for the spending bill. “And when Democrats are part of the bargain, there are certain things we’re going to insist on, which we did. So this is a movie we’ve seen before.”
Even in the Senate, Republicans peeled off on the vote to pass the spending package. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) all announced they would be dissenting due to specific qualms with the legislation.
Graham said he opposed the bill because it does not include enough money for the Pentagon, renew expiring credits for nuclear power companies or support the Export-Import Bank. Cruz complained that the measure does not bar funding for Obamacare, Planned Parenthood or “sanctuary cities” that buck federal immigration orders. And Corker told CNBC the bill is fiscally irresponsible and abuses the “slush fund” of Overseas Contingency Operations money.
“What we really are doing is sending our young kids over the cliff as we spend more money than we should,” Corker said, noting that Trump has vowed not to revamp entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, which account for the majority of federal spending. “I realize we’re in a party-time atmosphere here now. But I’m sorry, I just cannot support it. Throw tomatoes at me, if you will.”
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.
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