Congress steered clear of a government shutdown Friday, passing legislation to fund the government for one week ahead of a midnight deadline.
And lawmakers say another punt shouldn’t be needed, as a deal finally appears imminent on an overarching spending package — seven months after their first missed budget deadline.
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The Senate unanimously passed the stopgap spending bill early Friday afternoon, about an hour after the measure was approved by the House, 382-30. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Lawmakers hope to pass a broader funding package next week to provide updated spending levels for each federal agency through September. And while the parties are still negotiating on several matters, top appropriators say they expect contentious policy items to fall by the wayside now that the thorniest issues — over Trump’s border wall and Obamacare payments — are off the table.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handles veterans’ affairs spending, said Republicans realize they will need to compromise to appease enough Democrats to win passage in the Senate.
“We need 60 votes,” Dent said after voting for the one-week patch. “So I think it’s safe to say that some of the more controversial policy riders will be discarded.”
Senior appropriators had previously suggested only some of the 11 remaining fiscal 2017 bills would receive updated spending, while more controversial measures would remain at current levels. But lawmakers have said in recent days that they are now aiming for updated funding across the board.
“Our goal remains to complete the 11 bills — all of them,” Dent said Friday. “Absolutely I believe we can do it. I feel pretty confident we’ll get there.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer warned on the floor Friday that there are “still significant items that are not resolved,” even as Republican leaders say a deal is within reach.
Hoyer said House Speaker Paul Ryan told him to expect full text of the $1 trillion omnibus bill Monday night. Under the new temporary funding measure, Congress would have until Friday, May 5 to act.
After first blocking the one-week spending patch Thursday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) signaled Friday that Democrats in the Senate were prepared to swiftly agree to the bill to fund the government until next week.
“Not all of the poison pill riders have been eliminated, some have. A good number have,” Schumer said. “And so we’re willing to extend things for a little bit more time, in hopes that the same kind of progress can continue to be made. But we still have a little bit more ways to go, and we still have some poison pill riders that they haven’t dropped yet.”
Policy riders involving the environment, labor issues and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law still remain in dispute, Schumer said.
Rep. Robert Aderholt, chairman of the agriculture spending subcommittee, suggested Democrats are being unreasonable in their continued demands — especially considering Trump has already ceded on two major points in spending negotiations, backing down on his demands for border wall funding and assuring Democrats the administration will continue making Obamacare cost-sharing payments.
“We at some point have to draw the line because I think the Republicans are going to go backwards in trying to work with them,” Aderholt (R-Ala.) said. “I think, at this point, it’s just being petty not to move forward.”
GOP appropriators admit, though, that they won’t be able to court enough House Republicans to pass an omnibus package without Democratic support. And in the Senate, the GOP’s 52-member majority means constant reliance on the minority party to overcome filibusters.
Democrats maintain that controversial “riders” must go.
“It’s ridiculous. Their riders don’t have any place on this. They didn’t in the first place,” said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), top Democrat on the appropriations panel that funds transportation and housing agencies. “So that’s the least they can do is strip the riders out. … They’ve got to be out.”
Price said he is also seeking additional disaster relief in the bill for North Carolina, which was hit by a category five hurricane last summer.
“We’re hopeful that we’re going to get a constructive approach to that as well,” Price said. “We have a very well-scrubbed, well-defended request in — bipartisan. So we’ll see.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he thinks the deal-making process has so far “worked out as a humble negotiation,” in which Republicans stand to notch major victories on increased defense and border security spending and Democrats on Obamacare subsidies and staving off border wall funding.
“Looks to me more like we split the difference,” said Cole, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and education programs.
While the White House has been helpful in the negotiations, he added, it would have been better — for everyone involved — if congressional leaders had passed the omnibus last December.
“Most of this deal was cut before Donald Trump was even president. Honestly, he shouldn’t have been part of this negotiation,” Cole said. “I don’t think we did him any favors by not getting our work done in November and December. And the appropriators could have gotten their work done.”
Kicking the can on fiscal 2017 appropriations has been especially problematic since appropriators have been tied up while they should be focusing on fiscal 2018 spending levels, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) said Friday.
“In the appropriations process, at this point in time, we would have already released in committee two or three of the bills. So we need to get this done,” said Roby. “We’ve got this short-term one-weeker. Let’s get it done.”
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.
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