Senate Passes Spending Bill to Avert Government Shutdown -- 2nd Update

By Natalie AndrewsFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

The Senate passed a $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government through Sept. 30, sending it next to the president's desk and avoiding a partial government shutdown this weekend.

The bill passed with 79 votes in favor in the Senate on Thursday. It had passed the House on Wednesday and now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it even though several of his key priorities are missing. A White House official said Mr. Trump will sign the bill tomorrow, ahead of the 12:01 a.m. Saturday deadline.

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The must-pass bill was crafted by leaders among Republicans and Democrats in Congress and is being touted as a win by both parties.

The White House has said that it is focused on winning in September pieces of the legislation that it sought but failed to advance, such as funding for a border wall with Mexico.

The measure increases military spending by $19.9 billion over the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. Republicans talked up the fact that more money in the bill is allocated to defense than domestic spending, a shift from the parity between the two insisted upon on by former President Barack Obama.

"Defense is no longer being held hostage to Democratic insistence on plussing up non-defense," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said this week.

Democrats say the parity is still there, because the extra money for the defense budget comes temporarily from emergency funds.

They, too, are talking up the bill as a success, noting that they staved off cuts to domestic programs that Mr. Trump had wanted, and that negotiators persuaded Republicans to remove 160 special "riders" that direct how money can be spent. The bill ensures that funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America will continue through the fiscal year.

The president's top request of funding for a wall along the border with Mexico also 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.

"We got rid of all of the foolish things, like the wall, the Mexican wall, the effort to repeal Planned Parenthood, we got rid of all of that, " said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate appropriations committee that crafted the bill.

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.

The spending bill requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, meaning Republicans needed Democratic support for its passage. The bill was also opposed by some Republican members, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who said in a statement that he was voting no because the bill is "perpetuating Democrats' big government programs."

--Rebecca Ballhaus contributed to this article.

Write to Natalie Andrews at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 04, 2017 17:01 ET (21:01 GMT)