House passes ‘minibus’ spending bill; transportation package deadline pushed to December

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The House passed a $147 billion “minibus” spending package Thursday and sent it to President Donald Trump for a signature to avert another possible government shutdown, The Hill reported today.

The legislation accounts for about 12 percent of overall 2019 spending and was passed by a bipartisan vote of 377-20. The Senate overwhelmingly passed an identical bill Wednesday, and the White House has indicated that Trump will sign the measure.

The two chambers have continued to negotiate a third spending package — comprising four bills including agriculture, interior, transportation and financial services — but the deadline for completing them would be pushed to December, assuming the second package with the continuing resolution (CR) passes.

The package passed Thursday includes bills for military construction and veterans’ affairs, the legislative branch as well as energy and water.

The vote followed a deal between the House and Senate to sidestep an October 1 shutdown threat from Trump over border wall funding.

The two chambers decided to pair a short-term CR extending all government funding until December 7 with the must-pass package of defense, labor, health and human services, and education bills.

In order to force a shutdown over border wall funding, Trump would have to veto the entire package, including the increased spending of the defense bill.

House GOP leaders on Thursday touted passage of the three spending bills as lawmakers showing more progress in the regular appropriations process than has been seen in over a decade, the Hill article stated.

The $44.6 billion energy and water bill, a $1.4 billion increase over last year, includes funding for modernizing nuclear weapons complexes, revitalizing waterways, and researching renewable energy. The did not fund a project to store nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountains, a controversial rider that had been included in the House version of the bill.

In a first, the $4.8 billion legislative branch bill provides funds to pay Capitol Hill interns and also reinstates a requirement for the House and Senate to conduct studies on gender and racial pay equity among their staffs.

The White House indicated that the legislation had President Trump’s support.

“President Trump looks forward to signing this legislation and continuing to work with Congress to enact Fiscal Year 2019 funding for the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies, while continuing to show fiscal restraint,” the White House said in a press statement Wednesday evening.

 

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