By the time they leave town Friday for a one-week work period in their home states, senators are expected to pass a $1.1 trillion, 1,582 page spending bill that will avert the threat of a government shutdown for the next several months and help Congress get back to the normal process of budget and spending money that preceded the gridlock of recent years.
The House passed the so-called “omnibus” spending bill Wednesday afternoonby a vote of 357 to 64, despite objections from some outside conservative groups that the bill undid some of the mandatory spending cuts in the sequester.
“I would rather the Republican leadership come clean and admit that they have surrendered the fight for spending reform. The claims of victory coming out of some of these House offices are insulting to the intelligence of the fiscally conservative grassroots,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, in a statement after the vote.
The bill boosts spending over 2013 fiscal year by $26 billion, but the budget is still about $30 billion below pre-sequester levels.
But other Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, saw the budget as reigning in spending because it replaced the sequester cuts with other savings.
“I am particularly pleased that this measure contains no earmarks, which were once a pervasive symbol of a broken Washington. Also of note is the fact that we are not providing any new or additional funding for the president’s health care law,” Boehner said in a statement.
The massive spending bill takes the broad outlines of a budget deal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., at the end of 2013 and fills in the smaller details. It provides $63 billion in sequester relief and $85 billion in total savings over the next two years, resulting in about $23 billion in deficit reduction.
Passing the bill to flesh out the budget deal is the last step in averting another government shutdown after funding from a short-term spending bill ran out today. In order to allow themselves time to debate and vote on the appropriations measures, both the House and Senate passed short, three-day bills to buy a few extra days. They have until Saturday night to finish off the larger bill.
The appropriations heads in the House and Senate, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., worked together to put together the measure, which allows neither party to score any overt political points. But it did offer lawmakers the ability to win a few policy victories for their constituents back home. They aren’t the so-called “pork” projects that were banned a few years ago, but they did sweeten the deal for some lawmakers.
Here are some things that are – and aren’t – in the massive spending bill:
- President Obama’s signature legislative achievements, the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, get most of their implementation funding
- The bill undoes a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments for military pensions that was part of the original budget deal, but angered many lawmakers
- Domestic programs get about $20 billion back in money that would have been cut by the sequester, including an additional $1 billion for Head Start
- Democrats managed to keep out a Republican provision that would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, but they do lose regulations that would have phased out incandescent light bulbs for more energy-efficient ones
- Daily agency operations are cut by $79 billion
- Mr. Obama’s high-speed rail program gets no more funding
- The U.S. won’t be able to make its full payments to the International Monetary Fund
- No more money can be spent on the portraits of Cabinet secretaries or members of Congress
- The U.S. Postal Service is blocked from ending Saturday mail delivery, a cost-cutting move they had been eyeing
- Millions of dollars went out to programs that lawmakers took credit for, including research labs and programs, defense facilities, and construction projects like tanks and ships
- The Internal Revenue Service, which came under fire from Republicans for disproportionate scrutiny of conservative groups, gets direct orders not to “target” any U.S. citizens for exercising free speech rights
- The Transportation Security Administration still sees budget cuts
- The Army Corps of Engineers gets more than $300 million over what President Obama had requested they receive for various projects
- Civilian federal workers get a 1 percent pay increase, their first after a four-year pay freeze
- The House Appropriations Committee held off nearly all partisan measures on abortion, contraception, gun control, immigration, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and environmental regulations that could have sank the bill at the last minute
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