Senate Passes $854 Billion Spending Bill in Hopes of Averting Government Shutdown

Senate Passes $854 Billion Spending Bill in Hopes of Averting Government Shutdown


The Senate has passed nine of the 12 spending bills needed for fiscal 2019 after approving an $854 billion package Thursday to provide funding for most government operations.

The latest package, passed by a bipartisan 85-7 vote, includes $675 billion for the Defense Department as well as appropriations for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Labor and other agencies.

Republican leaders are hoping the spending package will help convince President Trump to ease off his threats to shut down the government in October if he doesn’t get the money he wants for a border wall with Mexico, Politico’s Sarah Ferris reports. “But the odds remain long that the legislation will even make it to the White House, with just 11 working days left for House and Senate lawmakers to merge opposing versions of the bills — and get Trump’s approval — before funding runs out” at the end of September, Ferris writes.

The three appropriations bills yet to pass — including money for the Department of Homeland Security and Trump’s border wall — are expected to be dealt with later in the year, with temporary spending bills extending funding until after the midterm elections.

What the spending bill includes: The Senate package would give the Pentagon a $20.4 billion increase and raise military pay by 2.6 percent — the largest boost in nearly a decade. It also provides a $2.3 billion funding boost for Health and Human Services, adds $145 million for programs to fight opioid addiction and increases funding for the National Institutes of Health by 5.4 percent. The Department of Education would see an increase of $541 million. The Labor Department’s budget would remain flat.

Why it matters: Besides the spending it includes and its significance in averting a potential shutdown, the Senate package is also the latest sign that the 2019 budget and appropriations process is running much more smoothly than in recent years, when individual spending measures were often scrapped in favor of massive omnibus bills to fund the entire government — the type of bill Trump said in March he would never again sign.

The Senate had not passed a labor and health spending bill since 2007. The legislation often proves contentious and gets bogged down in fights over abortion and other politically fraught issues. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to avoid attaching so-called poison pill proposals this time in order to pass a package that included some wins for each side. (The Senate voted down an amendment sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to keep taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions.)

“If signed into law, it would be the first time the Pentagon receives its new budget on time in 12 years — a talking point Republican leaders hope Trump will choose over extra funding for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border,” Politico’s Ferris writes.