Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a huge $1 trillion-plus spending bill that would fund most government operations through September but denies President Donald Trump money for a border wall and rejects his proposed cuts to popular domestic programs.
Aides to lawmakers involved in the talks disclosed the agreement Sunday night after weeks of negotiations. The bill was made public in the pre-dawn hours Monday.
The catchall spending bill would be the first major piece of bipartisan legislation to advance during Trump's short tenure in the White House. While losing on the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump won a $15 billion down payment on his request to strengthen the military.
The measure funds the remainder of the 2017 budget year, through Sept. 30, rejecting cuts to popular domestic programs targeted by Trump such as medical research and infrastructure grants.
Successful votes later this week would also clear away any remaining threat of a government shutdown — at least until the Oct. 1 start of the 2018 budget year. Trump has submitted a partial 2018 budget promising a 10% increase for the Pentagon, financed by cuts to foreign aid and other nondefense programs that negotiators on the pending measure protected.
Democrats were quick off the mark to praise the deal.
"This agreement is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a key force in the talks. "The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren't used to fund an ineffective border wall, excludes poison pill riders, and increases investments in programs that the middle class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure."
The measure is assured of winning bipartisan support in votes this week; the House and Senate have until midnight Friday to pass the measure to avert a government shutdown. It's unclear how much support the measure will receive from GOP conservatives and how warmly it will be received by the White House.
Republicans are also eager to move on to other issues such as overhauling the tax code and reviving their moribund effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's healthcare law.
"The omnibus (spending bill) is in sharp contrast to President Trump's dangerous plans to steal billions from lifesaving research, instead increasing funding for the NIH (National Institutes of Health) by $2 billion," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. "Now, the members of our caucus will assess the whole package and weigh its equities," she added.
While the measure would peacefully end a battle over the current budget year, the upcoming cycle is sure to be even more difficult. Republicans have yet to reveal their budget plans, and battles between Trump and Congress over annual agency budgets could grind this summer's round of spending bills to a halt.
Among the final issues resolved was a Democratic request to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico with its Medicaid burden, a top priority of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. Pelosi and other Democrats came up short of the $500 million or so they had sought but won $295 million for the island, more than Republicans had initially offered.
GOP leaders demurred from trying to use the must-do spending bill to "defund" Planned Parenthood. The White House also backed away from language to take away grants from "sanctuary cities" that do not share information about people's immigration status with federal authorities.
Democrats praised a $2 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health — a rejection of the steep cuts proposed by Trump — as well as additional funding to combat opioid abuse, fund Pell Grants for summer school, and additional transit funding. Senate forces, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and several Appalachia region Democrats, won a provision to extend health care for 22,000 retired Appalachian coal miners and their families.
Democratic votes will be needed to pass the measure even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress. The minority party has been actively involved in the talks, which appear headed to produce a lowest common denominator measure that won't look too much different than the deal that could have been struck on Obama's watch last year.
The measure contains $100 million in emergency funding to fight the nation's opioid crisis.