Last week Congress passed a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown through Friday. Before the end of this week, they need to pass a longer-term version to keep the government funded until September. As I noted last week, passage of the short-term version demonstrated that Republicans are likely to need Democratic votes to get it passed.
Today we learn that an agreement was reached on how to move forward with a spending bill through September.
The bill has $1.5 billion for border security, including for technology and fixing existing infrastructure but it doesn’t allow the money to spent on building Trump’s wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities…
Aides also agreed that the bill includes billions in new defense spending, including for the global war on terrorism, a major demand from Republicans.
In the proposal, there are no cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood, a demand from Democrats.
Funding for the National Institute of Health is increased by $2 billion and there is additional money for clean energy and science funding.
Negotiators also agreed to make a permanent fix for miners health insurance and to provide $295 million for Puerto Rico Medicaid. There is also disaster aid package that includes funding for California, West Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina. There is increased funding for transit infrastructure grants and to fight the opioid epidemic, and year-round Pell Grants were restored.
Notice that the bill not only rejects Trump’s demand to fund his border wall. It also rejects increased funding for his deportation force and attempt to de-fund sanctuary cities. That is a huge blow to the nativists in his administration. But even more telling, it specifically stops him from being able to use increased funding for border security to pay for his wall.
That represents a clear rejection of items on the president’s agenda that veer from the priorities of Congressional leadership. Other than signaling a break from Trump and Bannon, it doesn’t bode well for things like his infrastructure plan going forward.
The contents of this spending bill also signal that Republicans are aware of the fact that they can’t afford a government shutdown when their party has a majority in both houses of Congress as well as a Republican president. But when it comes to funding the government, they still don’t have a consensus within their own party, which means that they will have to continue to negotiate with Democrats in order to avoid a shutdown. In this bill, that meant no cuts to Planned Parenthood and increased funding for NIH as well things like clean energy, science, disaster aid and transit.
Unless something changes, this lack of consensus in the Republican ranks means that we’re likely to continue witnessing intense negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over bills that are required to fund the government, with little progress in Congress on anything else. The one exception would be if Republicans can craft bills that meet the rigorous rules related to budget reconciliation—the process that allows them to avoid a Senate filibuster. But as we’ve seen with the failed attempts in the House to repeal Obamacare, even that is not guaranteed.