House approves $1.3 trillion spending bill to avoid shutdown
The House on Thursday approved a last minute $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that made a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the northeast very happy.
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and other pols took a victory lap after securing funding for a vital rail infrastructure project in the last minute omnibus spending bill.
The $540 million for part of a long-stalled rail tunnel project under the Hudson River is only a fraction of the $1.3 trillion compromise package sent to the Senate after a 256-167 vote.
The bill, which keeps the government funded through September, will boost military and domestic spending and faced some opposition from conservative Republicans who were uneasy about the massive price tag.
“No deal is perfect, but people say they want bipartisanship,” King told the Daily News. “That means you have to accept things you don’t like.”
But the Long Island Republican was more than pleased that funds to kickstart the Gateway rail project were included after he talked to Trump one-on-one last week at a St. Patrick’s Day lunch.
Trump had vowed to veto the bill if it included the funds, but King convinced him to change his mind.
“The President assured me he’s going to see this through,” he said. “We went back and forth. It was pretty intense.“It’s important that it’s in there. It’s a big victory,” King added.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Trump intends to sign the bill if it passes the Senate before the looming shutdown deadline at midnight Friday — even though it contains major concessions to Democrats.
The bill rejects several budget cuts proposed by Mulvaney, keeping the Environmental Protection Agency and other parts of the government fully funded.
It also ignores Mulvaney’s calls to slash more than half a billion dollars from counterterrorism programs administered by the Department of Homeland Security.
“Let’s cut right to the chase. Is the President going to sign the bill? The answer is yes,” he said.
The Trump administration made several other concessions.
The President, who only got a fraction of the $25 billion he requested for a border wall, tried to spin the bill as a win.
“Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year...most ever,” he tweeted. “Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.”
Some Democrats in the House opposed the bill because it does not renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
Trump ended the popular program, which temporarily let young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work and go to school.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped hammer out the deal on the Gateway project with GOP leaders, was hopeful that the bill would be brought to a vote at some point Thursday.
“From opioid funding to rural broadband, and from student loans to child care, this bill puts workers and families first,” he said in a statement.
Lawmakers also agreed to tuck in bipartisan provisions to bolster school safety funds and improve compliance with the criminal background check system for firearm purchases.
The bill also allows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do research on gun violence.