House Passes Omnibus Spending Bill

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an omnibus spending bill. The bill, which contained 2,232 pages, was passed only 17 hours after it was introduced on the House floor, and it prevents a government shutdown by providing funding until October of this year.

For many months, Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating the bill. While they had been negotiating, Congress passed 5 continuing resolutions to keep the government operating until the bill could be completed. It passed by a vote of 265-167, with 111 Democrats joining the 145 Republicans who supported the bill. 77 Democrats and 90 Republicans voted against the bill.

The $1.3 trillion bill increases non-defense spending this fiscal year by $63 billion, while it increases defense spending by $80 billion. It also provides a 1.9% raise for civilian federal workers, while giving members of the armed services a raise of 2.4%.

The bill further provides significant resources for border protection as well, in the amount of $1.6 billion. This includes $445 million for levee fencing, $445 million for replacing existing fencing, $251 million for secondary fencing and $196 million for “primary pedestrian fencing.” However, the bill specifically prohibits the Trump administration from creating a border wall based upon prototypes that were designed last year.

The bill also provides funding for various forms of infrastructure projects. Among these is a rail project for the New York area called the New York-New Jersey Gateway program. The president had wanted funding for this project to be contingent on funding the border wall, but lawmakers in the New York area were able to get the funding without any such contingency.

Also contained in the legislation was a fix to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and a correction to the recently passed tax law that gave farm cooperatives a larger tax benefit than other forms of agricultural corporations. In exchange for the latter, Democrats received an expansion of a housing credit for low-income families.