Senate Passes $1.4T Spending Bill to Avert Shutdown

WASHINGTON (CN) – One day ahead of a deadline to avoid a government shutdown, the Senate on Thursday approved a $1.4 trillion spending deal that will fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, left, talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A Congress embroiled in a bitter fight over impeachment faced an end-of-week deadline to pass a spending agreement that would fund the government, or face a government shutdown. Negotiations to get the bills passed earlier in the year stalled amid long-running disagreements between Republicans and Democrats, forcing Congress to twice pass short-term spending bills to keep the government open.

The agreement, which was split between two bills, passed the Senate on Thursday afternoon and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it before Friday’s deadline.

The final compromise includes $1.375 billion for fencing along the southern border, a priority of Trump’s, while also boosting spending for the 2020 Census by more than $3.7 billion. In addition, the agreement raises the age to buy tobacco to 21 and lifts a two-decade ban on the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health conducting research on gun violence.

The bill also gives a 3.1% pay increase for federal civilian employees and gives states $425 million in election security grants. It also repeals long-criticized taxes in the federal health care law on medical devices and high-cost health plans.

Senator Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Thursday praised lawmakers for working together to reach a compromise that pushed the spending bills on the uphill path to passage.

“As the clock winds down, let’s come together and do what seemed so unlikely just a month ago: fund the entire federal government before the Christmas break,” Shelby said on the Senate floor Thursday.

But not every lawmaker was so pleased with the compromise. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, called the agreements a “fiscal dumpster fire” and blasted congressional leadership for pushing through a sweeping spending bill with little time for lawmakers to review its contents or suggest changes.

“They’re masquerading under the banner of bipartisan compromise, when in fact they are collusion,” Lee said, referring to the spending bills. “Collusion just by a handful of members of Congress who don’t have to have their provisions debated and discussed and subject to amendment.”

%d bloggers like this: