House backs $1.2T spend­ing bill with more money for mil­i­tary

El Dorado News-Times - - Business -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — The Repub­li­can-led House on Thurs­day passed a sweep­ing $1.2 tril­lion spend­ing bill that pro­vides bil­lions more dol­lars for the mil­i­tary while spar­ing med­i­cal re­search and pop­u­lar com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment pro­grams from deep cuts sought by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The vote was 211-198 for the mas­sive mea­sure that wrapped the 12 an­nual spend­ing bills into one in ad­vance of the end of the bud­get year on Sept. 30. Even though the Se­nate still must act, the gov­ern­ment will keep op­er­at­ing through Dec. 8, thanks to leg­is­la­tion Congress passed last week and sent to Trump.

House mem­bers spent the past two weeks de­bat­ing the mea­sure's $500 bil­lion for do­mes­tic agen­cies. GOP lead­ers then merged that do­mes­tic spend­ing pack­age with an ear­lier House mea­sure that would give record bud­get in­creases to the Pen­tagon and pro­vide a $1.6 bil­lion down pay­ment for Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der that he re­peat­edly has in­sisted Mex­ico would fi­nance.

"It does ev­ery­thing from strength­en­ing our na­tional de­fense and vet­er­ans' pro­grams to crack­ing down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion to pro­tect­ing life to cut­ting abu­sive Wash­ing­ton agen­cies like the IRS and the EPA," said the No. 2 House Repub­li­can, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Cal­i­for­nia. Speaker Paul Ryan. R-Wis., praised a pay raise for the mil­i­tary, bor­der se­cu­rity fund­ing, and "de­fund­ing" Planned Par­ent­hood as vic­to­ries for Repub­li­cans and Trump.

At is­sue are the spend­ing bills passed by Congress each year to fund day-to-day op­er­a­tions of fed­eral agen­cies. Trump, fol­low­ing the lead of bud­get di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney, a for­mer tea party con­gress­man, pushed for a sweep­ing in­crease for the Pen­tagon and com­men­su­rate cuts of more than $50 bil­lion from do­mes­tic agen­cies and for­eign aid.

House Repub­li­cans have re­sponded by adding even more spend­ing on de­fense, but have sig­nif­i­cantly scaled back Trump's cuts to do­mes­tic pro­grams like com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment grants and re­search into rare dis­eases.

Trump has taken a low-pro­file on bud­get is­sues other than the wall, how­ever, and his ad­min­is­tra­tion has done lit­tle to fight for his spend­ing cuts since they were un­veiled.

The House mea­sure adds al­most $9 bil­lion to Trump's fund­ing re­quest for med­i­cal re­search at the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, rather than ac­cept­ing sharp cuts rec­om­mended by Trump. It keeps as-is a $269 mil­lion sub­sidy for money-los­ing routes to ru­ral air­ports that Trump had tar­geted. And it gives mod­est in­creases to GOP fa­vorites such as law en­force­ment agen­cies and NASA.

But House Repub­li­cans voted to slash gov­ern­ment ac­counts on study­ing cli­mate change, elim­i­nate Ti­tle X fam­ily plan­ning funds, and sharply cut for­eign aid ac­counts, though not as dras­ti­cally as Trump pro­posed. A trans­porta­tion grant pro­gram started by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama would be elim­i­nated, as would hir­ing grants for lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments.

The lim­its im­posed by a bud­get agree­ment threaten the mea­sure's sweep­ing Pen­tagon in­creases, which to­tal about $60 bil­lion above cur­rent lev­els and al­most $30 bil­lion higher than Trump's bud­get. That would evap­o­rate next year un­less there's a bi­par­ti­san agree­ment to raise them.

The se­nior Demo­crat on the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, warned that with­out a new bud­get deal, a po­ten­tial shut­down looms in De­cem­ber, when a tem­po­rary fund­ing bill ex­pires.

"With­out an agree­ment to raise Bud­get Con­trol Act spend­ing caps, we will just face an­other cri­sis in De­cem­ber," Lowey said.

The leg­is­la­tion is laced with con­ser­va­tive pro­vi­sions re­vers­ing Obama-era reg­u­la­tions, block­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Af­ford­able Care Act and de­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood. But most such mea­sures will be dropped — as in pre­vi­ous years — dur­ing sub­se­quent ne­go­ti­a­tions with Democrats.

Pas­sage of the leg­is­la­tion marks the first time since 2009 that the House has backed all of the ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills in one fash­ion or the other by the end of the bud­get year. The progress was pos­si­ble in part be­cause House GOP lead­ers ma­neu­vered to keep Democrats from forc­ing con­tro­ver­sial votes on is­sues such as im­mi­gra­tion.

An­drew Harnik/AP

Speak­ing: House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., cen­ter, speaks with House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, as they ar­rive for a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing a GOP cau­cus meet­ing on Capi­tol Hill, Wed­nes­day.

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