More money, fewer problems.
The federal government was set to shut down at the end of this week, but Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress struck a deal over the weekend to keep the government open by agreeing to spend more money on all of their priorities.
The Trump administration had requested $18 billion in cuts to domestic agencies in a trial-balloon budget floated in March. Instead, Congress got together and made sure both parties got even more of the government dough in the $1 trillion spending bill.
Military spending, a priority for President Trump and congressional Republicans, will be increased by $12.5 billion, with an extra $2.5 billion if and when the White House presents a plan to Congress on fighting ISIS, according to Politico. This suggests a reversal of the Obama-era decline in defense spending following the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Congress will also vote to provide additional $1.5 billion to go to border security, but none of that money will go to the long-promised border wall, despite the Trump administration’s efforts.
“We have boosted resources for our defense needs without corresponding increases in non-defense spending,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.
But despite that spin, funding for the National Institute of Health will increase by $2 billion and will put money toward President Barack Obama’s cancer program. Police departments like the NYPD will be compensated for security costs incurred from protecting the president and his family.
The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Appalachian Regional Commission — all programs Trump had proposed to cut entirely — will get small increases. And Planned Parenthood funding will not go down, despite some Republicans’ demands.
A program providing health care to 20,000 retired miners after coal companies shirked their liabilities in bankruptcy courts will now be made permanent, with $4.6 billion set aside.
“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement. “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.”
President Trump’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year (October 2017- October 2018) made enormous cuts in discretionary spending and federal agencies — including the NIH — but none of those penny-pinching priorities made it into the spending bill. Instead, both parties decided to spend more money on their favorite programs in order to keep the government open through September 30.
But President Trump has vowed to request funding for the border wall and make cuts in the next budget, and Democrats have said that the wall is a non-starter, setting up another possible government shutdown this fall. Congress also must raise the debt ceiling in August or September or the U.S. could default on its commitments. While Congress punted to avoid confrontations this time, multiple potential showdowns loom in the near future.
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