Posted: 8:23 pm Wednesday, March 21st, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
After weeks of negotiations, Congress unveiled a $1.3 trillion funding measure for the federal government on Wednesday night, adding billions in new spending for both the Pentagon and domestic spending programs, along with a pair of bills dealing with school safety and gun violence, but including no deals on some politically difficult issues like the future of illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”
The 2,232 pages of bill text were quietly posted by GOP leaders after yet another day of closed door negotiations, which included a trip down to the White House by House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier in the afternoon, amid rumblings of Presidential discontent.
“No bill of this size is perfect,” Ryan said in a written statement, as he touted the extra money in the plan for the U.S. military.
“But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad,” Ryan added.
BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018
Among the items included in the Omnibus funding bill:
+ The bipartisan “Fix NICS” bill, which would press states and federal agencies to funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers.
+ The “STOP School Violence Act,” which would send grant money to local governments to help schools better recognize possible violent threats in schools and their communities.
+ Nearly $1.6 billion to help build portions of a wall along the southern border with Mexico, with the locations specifically spelled out by the Congress.
+ $3.3 billion in extra funding to help states deal with the opioids crisis. There is also $94 million for efforts to stop opioids from being sent into the U.S.
+ $3 billion in extra funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health.
+ $380 million to help the feds deal with election security questions revolving around possible Russian interference in 2018.
+ A series of technical tax law changes, commonly referred to as “technical corrections,” including some changes to the new tax law signed by President Donald Trump in December. The bill also includes extra money for the IRS to help with implementation of the law.
Going through the legislative text – and the flurry of news releases issued by lawmakers – this bill is about much more than spending, as a host of different legislative items were jammed in as well, most likely making this the most consequential piece of legislation in the Congress in 2018.
Even before the text of the bill was unveiled, a number of Republicans were not pleased, arguing the GOP has done little to merit the support of voters back home, saying it will mean more spending and a bigger government.
“That is not in any way close to what the election was about,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who argued the President should veto the bill.
Also causing some irritation was the fact that the bill was negotiated with little input from most lawmakers, and sprung on them just hours before the House and Senate were due to head out of town on a two week Easter break.
We should have been on the House floor all year, in front of @cspan cameras, debating and amending spending bills. Instead, nearly all of Congress is waiting to see what omnibus bill emerges from the smoke filled room. Post offices are getting named… at least there’s that.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 20, 2018
It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni…wait, what?
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 21, 2018
“There is not a single member of Congress who can physically read it, unless they are a speed reader,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).
One example of the fine print is on the $1.6 billion for the border wall, as the Omnibus plan sets out a series of places where that money will be spent.
One of the many provisions in the bill included a $174,000 payment to the estate of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who died earlier this week.
Those type of payments are typical when a lawmaker dies while in office.
GOP leaders hope to vote on the Omnibus in the House on Thursday, as lawmakers are ready to go home for a two-week break for Easter.
Even more important than the bill text is what is known as the “report language,” which gives further guidance on how federal spending should be directed: