House Heads Toward Passage of Bill to Keep Gov't Running

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House headed toward approval of a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill with both Democrats and Republicans claiming victory — for now — while delaying until later this year fights over President Donald Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico and massive military buildup.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., assured conservatives on Wednesday the bill is a win for Trump and Republicans controlling Congress, citing “a really good down payment” on rebuilding the military and “the biggest increase in border security in a decade.” The measure, which must be approved by the Senate, would avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday.

The White House has said Trump would sign the measure.

One day after the president’s contradictory comments, Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the most important victory for Republicans was breaking loose from former Democratic President Barack Obama’s edict that increases in defense spending be matched with equal hikes for domestic programs.

“What we really wanted to do is break the parity requirement that we endured under Obama, where if you wanted to put a dollar into the military for a ship, for a plane, for bullets, for gas, you had to give the domestic spending of federal government another dollar,” Ryan said.

Democrats also back the measure, which protects popular domestic programs such as education, medical research, and grants to state and local governments from cuts sought by Trump. As such, it is the first major bipartisan measure to advance in Trump’s short, turbulent presidency.

“Every member of this House has a victory in the bill,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

A sweeping bipartisan vote was expected by midafternoon for the measure, which is the product of weeks of Capitol Hill negotiations in which top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi successfully blocked Trump’s most controversial proposals — especially the Mexico wall and cuts to popular domestic programs like community development grants.

The White House won $15 billion in emergency funding to jumpstart Trump’s promise to rebuild the military and an extra $1.5 billion for border security — each short of Trump demands — leading the president on Tuesday to boast, “this is what winning looks like.”

The opinions of top party leaders were not shared by everyone in the rank and file, some of whom feel that GOP negotiators too easily gave up of conservative priorities such as cutting funds for Planned Parenthood and punishing “sanctuary” cities that fail to cooperate with immigration authorities.

“From my point of view, we pretty well got our clock cleaned,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“I don’t think it was negotiated very well, and I’ll just leave it at that,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.

The long-overdue bill buys just five months of funding while Trump and his allies battle with congressional Democrats over spending cuts and funding for the wall, which Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign would be financed by Mexico. Mexican officials have rejected that notion.

Republicans were surprised by tweets from Trump on Tuesday that suggested he was initially unhappy with the measure and might provoke a government shutdown this fall in hopes of getting his way on the wall and other demands.

The measure is the product of a bipartisan culture among Congress’ appropriators, with money for foreign aid, grants to state and local governments and protection for the Environmental Protection Agency from cuts sought by tea party Republicans. The measure provides $2 billion in disaster aid money, $407 million to combat Western wildfires, additional grants for transit projects, and a $2 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

The White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., won a $1.3 billion provision to preserve health benefits for more than 22,000 retired coal miners. Pelosi was the driving force behind an effort to give the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico $295 million to ease its Medicaid burden.

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