House Passes $1 Trillion Spending Package, but Larger Spending Fight Still Looms

House Passes $1 Trillion Spending Package, but Larger Spending Fight Still Looms

REUTERS/Jason Reed

The House on Wednesday passed a nearly $1 trillion spending package by a 226-203 vote largely along party lines. “But it’s far too soon to declare victory in averting the fiscal cliff that looms just three-and-a-half months away,” Politico’s Caitlin Emma and Jennifer Scholtes report.

The 667-page spending package funds most of the federal government for fiscal 2020, including the Defense Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. It also provides for foreign operations and energy and water. “The measure takes aim at a slew of Trump's funding goals, starting with a rejection of his budget request, which proposed deep cuts to the State Department, cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the elimination of advanced energy research and a massive increase in defense spending,” The Hill’s Niv Ellis writes.

The House was set to take up a second package covering $383 billion in spending on Wednesday afternoon. Democrats reportedly expect to pass all 12 required annual spending bills by the end of June.

Why it matters: The spending package isn’t likely to become law as is, Ellis says, but it will give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) more leverage in her budget negotiations with Senate Republicans, who have yet to take up their own fiscal 2020 funding bills. The two sides, along with the Trump White House, must agree to a deal to raise spending caps for the fiscal year that starts October 1.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met Wednesday afternoon with other top lawmakers and Trump administration officials to again discuss how to raise spending caps that threaten to force $126 billion in automatic spending cuts or another government shutdown. The main point of contention in those talks has been how much to raise non-defense spending, with Democrats pushing for higher increases.

“Congressional leaders in both parties are confident they can reach a deal to stave off a funding fiasco this fall — if only President Donald Trump would stay out of the way,” Politico’s Heather Caygle and Burgess Everett reported Tuesday evening.

But the meeting reportedly did not go well. After the meeting, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that, rather than pursue the two-year budget deal lawmakers prefer, the administration is prepared to extend funding and suspend the debt ceiling for one year, CNN reported.