House Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill That Excludes Some Trump Priorities

By Natalie Andrews Features Dow Jones Newswires

The House on Wednesday passed a $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government through Sept. 30, a big step toward avoiding a government shutdown on Saturday.

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The Senate is expected to vote on the bill before current government funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and it was expected to pass the legislation.

The must-pass bill was crafted by Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress and is being touted as a win by both parties. But it excludes a number of President Donald Trump's top priorities.

The measure increases military spending by $19.9 billion over the fiscal year 2016 enacted level, less than Mr. Trump requested. GOP lawmakers claimed wins in what are called policy riders, or unrelated provisions tucked into the spending bill. The bill retains a block on using federal funds to transfer or release detainees from Guantanamo Bay into the U.S. or its territories. It also terminates or combines more than 150 government programs or initiatives.

Democratic lawmakers also see the bill as a success. They staved off cuts to domestic programs that Mr. Trump had wanted, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said his party persuaded Republicans to remove 160 policy riders from the bill. The bill ensures that funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America will continue through the fiscal year.

It also increases the budget for the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion, a provision favored by lawmakers in both parties, but not by Mr. Trump.

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Deputy Majority Whip Tom Cole (R., Okla.) said the increase in military spending was a major win for Mr. Trump and Republicans. On the policy points, he said, "I don't think we gave up anything that mattered."

Republicans hold a majority in the House but needed Democratic support to pass the spending bill, because some fiscal conservatives said the legislation called for too much spending. Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted his opposition to the bill, saying "Imagine you & your spouse are hugely in debt from overspending, so you call a meeting & agree each of you will spend more. That's Congress."

Administration officials, including Mr. Trump, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and press secretary Sean Spicer, touted the bill's military spending boosts, lack of equivalent boosts for nondefense spending and health-insurance payment appropriations, as well as provisions for coal miners.

Mr. Trump has indicated that he would sign the bill, though several of his top priorities were left out of the legislation, denying him an opportunity to put his policies into action.

The president's top request of funding for a wall along the border with Mexico was left out of the bill. The $1.5 billion total amount for border security, which will fund technology and repair existing fencing along the border, is half of what Mr. Trump requested.

The White House has described the bill's border provisions as "a good first step."

The White House said the deal was needed to keep the government open and is deferring the fight over its priorities until the next spending bill, this fall. At the same time, Mr. Trump has seemed to criticize the five-month deal, writing Monday on Twitter that the Senate should change its rule requiring 60 votes to move most legislation through the chamber. "The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%," he tweeted.

He also wrote that "our country needs a good 'shutdown' in September to fix this mess!"

In an interview Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called the president's response "pathetic" and said that "it's such a statement of poverty of knowledge on what it means to shut down government."

Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 03, 2017 16:35 ET (20:35 GMT)