Congress reaches spending deal, lowering odds of government shutdown

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WASHINGTON–Congress has reached an agreement to fund the federal government until September in a bipartisan deal that rejected President Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall and non-defense domestic spending cuts, according to a senior congressional aide.

The spending bill will allocate $1.5 billion for additional technology and infrastructure on the border, but explicitly includes language saying those funds cannot go to the construction of a wall. Lawmakers also rejected the president’s demand for $18 billion in non-defense spending cuts, increasing funds for the National Institutes for Health (NIH) by $2 billion.

The bipartisan deal also increased military spending by $12.5 billion–less than half the $30 billion the president asked for–with an extra $2.5 billion contingent upon the Trump administration showing Congress a plan to defeat ISIS.

The bill doesn’t touch funding for so-called sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood–two hot-button issues the Democrats had called “poison pills.” But Democrats were also stymied in their effort to get Congress to take over key Obamacare subsidies. The final deal does not include them, though the Trump administration said they would fund that part of Obamacare for now.

Democrats entered the negotiations with a lot of leverage, since Republicans, eager to prove their governing chops, did not want to be blamed for a government shutdown while they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. House Republicans have also been eager to move on from spending negotiations to a second attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare. A vote on the amended healthcare bill could happen this week.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats had managed to exclude “poison pill riders” in the agreement. “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective border wall, excludes poison pill riders, and increases investments in programs that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education, and infrastructure,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday night.

The government is funded through Friday at midnight, giving lawmakers five days to push the spending bills through both houses.

While Republicans and Democrats were able to put their differences aside and reach a deal on spending, the budget fight for 2018 will likely be far fiercer. The president has vowed to get funding for his wall then, and to ask for deep cuts in non-defense spending.

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