House Dems to vote on spending package in first step to avoid another shutdown

Government sets all-time record for spending money

Forbes Media Chairman Steve Forbes and Democratic Socialists of America member Nomiki Konst on how the federal government spent more money in the first seven months of 2019 than any other year in U.S. history.

The House is expected to take up a “minibus” funding package worth close to $1 trillion on Wednesday, kick-starting the next congressional showdown over 2020 spending as Democrats look to avert another shutdown this year.

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The House Democrats’ package allocates funding for four must-pass spending bills, including Defense, Health and Human Services and Education. Notably, it does not include funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which was at the forefront of the prolonged 35-day government shutdown earlier this year.

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While unlikely to garner Republican support, the spending bill marks the first step by Democrats in the looming budget battle, with a deadline of Sept. 30. If Congress is unable to pass a bipartisan spending bill by that date, the federal government could shut down for the third time since Trump took office. In order for the bill to reach Trump's desk, the House and Senate -- which is controlled by Republicans -- need to reach a consensus, meaning the bill will likely look considerably different.

The bundle -- worth a total $982.8 billion -- includes $645.1 billion in defense spending, a $15 billion increase in funding for the Pentagon. Another chunk of the money would go toward programs like health and education.

“Additionally, the bill protects against misappropriation of Defense funds for a border wall,” the House Committee on Appropriations said in a statement.

Democrats initially included a controversial Legislative Branch spending bill, which did not include a provision to block automatic pay raises for members, something lawmakers have done in previous bills since 2009. But lawmakers, facing uproar about the pay raise, pulled the Legislative Branch bill, as reported by CQ Roll Call, making the five-bill spending package a four-bill package.

The measure would have raised their salaries by $4,500. Lawmakers currently earn $174,000 a year.

According to the Hill, the House will take up a second "minibus" of five appropriations bill worth nearly $383 billion, including bills that cover commerce, justice and science; agriculture, rural development and the Food and Drug Administration; interior, environment military construction and veterans affairs; and transportation and housing and urban development.

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Still, Democrats and Republicans remain sharply divided about how much money to give toward Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. The shutdown -- the longest in U.S. history -- ended in January after Trump signed a continuing resolution to reopen the federal government. In early February, bipartisan lawmakers agreed to stave off another shutdown by providing $1.375 billion for fencing along the southern border (far less than Trump had requested).

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