$788B spend­ing bill sent to Se­nate

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By An­drew Tay­lor — The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON» The House passed a $788 bil­lion spend­ing bill Thurs­day that com­bines a $1.6 bil­lion down pay­ment for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial bor­der wall with Mex­ico with a whopping bud­get in­crease for the Pen­tagon.

The 235-192 vote eases a large back­log of un­fin­ished spend­ing bills and gives Trump and his House GOP al­lies po­lit­i­cal wins head­ing into the Au­gust re­cess. Chal­leng­ing hur­dles re­main in front of the mea­sure, how­ever, which will meet with more pow­er­ful Demo­cratic op­po­si­tion in the Se­nate.

The 326-page mea­sure would make good on long­time GOP prom­ises to re­verse an ero­sion in mil­i­tary readi­ness. It would give vet­er­ans pro­grams a 5 per­cent in­crease and fund a 2.4 per­cent mil­i­tary pay raise.

GOP lead­ers used the pop­u­lar­ity of the Pen­tagon and vet­er­ans pro­grams to power through Trump’s bor­der wall.

“Ev­ery sin­gle dime the pres­i­dent re­quested to start build­ing a wall on our south­ern bor­der he’s go­ing to get,” said House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin Mc­Carthy, R-Calif. “Most im­por­tantly, we’re send­ing more to the VA to fix vet­er­ans’ health care and re­form out­dated VA sys­tems.”

Still, a po­ten­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down bat­tle over the U.S.-Mex­ico wall looms with Se­nate Democrats this fall. The gen­er­ous de­fense spend­ing in­creases also run afoul of strict spend­ing lim­its set by an ear­lier bud­get law, and there’s been no progress on a bi­par­ti­san bud­get deal that would be a pre­req­ui­site for the higher spend­ing to take full ef­fect.

The House added Trump’s wall fund­ing by a 230-196 pro­ce­dural vote that de­nied an­gry Democrats an up-or-down vote. The wall gets low marks in pub­lic opin­ion polls and is op­posed by many of the GOP’s more mod­er­ate law­mak­ers.

Trump promised at nearly ev­ery rally and cam­paign event that Mex­ico would pay for the wall. Mex­ico said no, and U.S. tax­pay­ers will have to pro­vide the money.

“The pres­i­dent has promised this fund­ing. The Amer­i­can peo­ple want this fund­ing, and to­day the House is mak­ing good on that prom­ise,” said Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.

Crit­ics say ex­ist­ing fenc­ing is more than enough and that the por­tions of the bor­der with­out it are too re­mote for cross­ings. Also tribal law, en­vi­ron­men­tal re­quire­ments and per­sonal prop­erty rights have blocked fenc­ing for most of the rest.

Ap­peals by los­ing con­trac­tors de­lay bor­der wall pro­to­types.

SAN

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said Thurs­day that pro­to­types for a pro­posed bor­der wall with Mex­ico have been de­layed un­til Novem­ber be­cause two com­pa­nies have ob­jected to the bid­ding process, deal­ing an­other set­back to the pres­i­dent’s timetable to make good on a sig­na­ture cam­paign pledge. Los­ing bid­ders rou­tinely protest de­ci­sions, and ad­di­tional de­lays are pos­si­ble.

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