US Lawmakers Reach Deal on Outline for Annual Spending Bill

US Lawmakers Reach Deal on Outline for Annual Spending Bill

Freshly cut stacks of $100 bills make their way down the line at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas. (LM Otero/AP)

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have reached an agreement on spending levels for the annual spending bill needed to keep the government open after current funding runs out Dec. 11, according to two congressional aides in both parties.

The deal between Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, increases the chances that a giant $1.4 trillion bill to fund the government can pass Congress before the deadline.

The agreement encompasses top-line amounts for all 12 parts of an omnibus appropriations package as well as the level for emergency spending above the $1.4 trillion budget cap set in law in 2019.

The White House had been trying to force Congress to adopt $7 billion in cuts to domestic spending by preventing $12.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs from being designated as an emergency. The Trump administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The deal on the allocation levels for the spending bill clears the way for lawmakers to negotiate spending for specific programs and to resolve differences over policy language. Disputes over President Donald Trump’s border wall and immigration detention funding, as well as perennial spats over abortion-related items, remain unresolved.

There have also been talks of adding some pandemic-related spending to the package, short of the large stimulus bill that Democrats have been demanding.

The U.S. government has been operating under a stopgap continuing resolution since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

With the possibility of a divided government next year if Republicans keep control the Senate, Democrats see little incentive for holding up final spending bills until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.




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