Congress reached a deal to keep the government funded late on April 30, and is expected to vote on it early this week. (Reuters)
Lawmakers reached an agreement late Sunday on a broad spending package to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year in September, ending weeks of uncertainty. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the package early this week. The bipartisan agreement includes $12.5 billion in new military spending and $1.5 billion more for border security, a major priority for Republican leaders in Congress.
So, what’s in the agreement? We’ve sifted through the legislation, consulted supporting documents from Democratic and Republican aides, and called out some of the more notable and controversial elements below.
Please note: This is a fluid report that will be updated to add more detail or correct errors. What notable changes did we miss? What notable changes did you spot? Here’s a link to the 1,600-page bill that you can see for yourself. Contact us or share details in the comments section:
The Transportation Security Administration would get $331 million in additional money to hire new officers and canine teams to speed up the screening process at airports and seaports.
And air travelers rejoice: Congress decided against enacting a plan that would require $880 million in passenger fee increases.
The nation’s passenger rail service, a quasi-government organization, gets $1.5 billion, a $105 million increase from the last budget year.
Democrats are claiming a huge victory for the arts. They successfully blocked Trump’s request to cut funding to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Instead both agencies would see a funding increase of $2 million under this spending bill, bringing each budget to $150 million for fiscal 2017.
Trump didn’t get the wall money he wanted but Republicans did get $1.5 billion to spend on repairs to existing border fencing and new technology, such as drones and sensors to help agents keep an eye on parts of the border not protected by barriers.
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT:
Gone are requests for fee increases for ranchers grazing on federal land and plans for increased oil and gas inspection fees. The BLM got $1.2 billion in the spending bill, an increase of $15 million over last year, including $9 million for the hotly-debated sage grouse conservation project and federal land preservation.
Democrats say they used the spending bill to stave off attempts to end federal reporting of political contributions.
But there’s a ban on requiring government contracting firms to disclose political campaign contributions as a requirement for bidding for government work — ending an Obama-era push to do so.
And the bill bars the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax-exempt organizations or dues paid to trade associations — a loss for groups pushing for more disclosures of campaign contributions.
The spending bill includes a slight cut of $13 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and fully funds the Public Health Preparedness and Response programs, which are in charge of preparing for a bioterrorism attack or pandemic outbreak.
One of the rare bipartisan wins in this bill is a permanent extension of health-care coverage for coal miners. The measure was a major priority for coal-state lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
COLLEGE TUITION GRANTS:
Pell Grants for college tuition would get a boost to help cover a student’s full year of college. The maximum award would be increased to $5,935, up from $5,775.
Headed to the island nation? Bring back as many cigars you’d like. Negotiators declined to include language barring Americans from bringing back merchandise from Cuba — an attempt to roll back the Obama administration’s renewal of diplomatic and trade relations with the communist country.
The bill also doesn’t include language barring air travel to Cuba, certain educational trips or barring American businesses from doing work with entities owned by Cuban officials or their families.
Several agencies related to border security would get a boost for the remainder of fiscal 2017. CBP is slated to see a $137 million increase over last year’s funding level, bringing them to $11.4 billion. The money includes the full $772 million Trump requested for technology and repairs to existing infrastructure at the Southern border with Mexico.
The EPA program that helps communities clean up the water quality in their drinking supply is slated to remain fully funded at the previous year’s level. The agency was responsible for sending $100 million to help Flint, Mich., restore its drinking supply last year.
The Pentagon also gets $57 million for water quality testing projects at military bases.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:
The nation’s capital gets $756 million from the federal government — a $26 million increase from last year, but $7 million less than what the Obama administration had requested. The bill includes more money for security operations; $45 million for District school improvements; and the bill reauthorizes a scholarship program that helps low-income students attend private schools in the city.
The bill also bars federal funding from being used for abortion services or “to further marijuana legislation.” It also bars federal money from being used to fund a citywide needle exchange program.
This is one of the few departments to see their budget trimmed under the new spending bill. The $68 billion budget is $1.2 billion lower than the spending level enacted in 2016 and $2.3 billion lower than President Barack Obama proposed for this year. However, student academic support and special education both got modest boosts under the spending bill.
There’s no change in spending to secure U.S. diplomatic outposts. Overall embassy security programs will cost $2.357 billion.
The spending agreement requires FDA review of “e-cigarettes, little cigars, cigarillos, hookah” and all cigar products. Lawmakers from tobacco-producing states had been pushing to exempt thousands of e-cigarette flavors from federal review, according to congressional aides.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:
So much for Trump’s pledge to make deep cuts to the EPA: The spending bill would maintain nearly 99 percent of the agency’s total budget. Still, Republicans are celebrating that the $8.06 billion EPA budget will force the agency to maintain staffing levels at 15,000, the lowest since Ronald Reagan left office.
The spending bill also bans the EPA from cutting agricultural exemptions under the Clean Water Act and requires an update on plans to address the backlog of mining permits that have yet to be approved. The agency also cannot regulate lead in ammunition and fishing tackle that has led to eagle deaths and the poisoning of a wide range of animals.
There’s language in the bill requiring the Office of Management and Budget to…