With $1.3 trillion on the table, you can bet that both parties are getting some pet projects taken care of with the upcoming budget deal. The White House, while initially supportive, began to waffle in recent days based on feedback from conservative groups like the House Freedom Caucus. However, as of this morning, the President remains a backer of the bill, with some cajoling from Paul Ryan.
The Associated Press reports on the latest budget battle:
Congressional leaders finalized a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill Wednesday that substantially boosts military and domestic spending but leaves behind young immigrant “Dreamers,” deprives President Donald Trump some of his border wall money and takes only incremental steps to address gun violence.
As negotiators stumbled toward an end-of-the-week deadline to fund the government or face a federal shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan dashed to the White House amid concerns Trump’s support was wavering. The White House later said the president backed the legislation, even as some conservative Republicans balked at the size of the spending increases and the rush to pass the bill.
Talks continued into Wednesday evening before the 2,232-page text was finally released.
“No bill of this size is perfect,” Ryan said. “But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad.”
Leaders still hoped to start voting as soon as Thursday. A stopgap measure may be needed to ensure federal offices aren’t hit with a partial shutdown at midnight Friday when funding for the government expires.
Negotiators have been working for days — and nights — on details of the bill, which is widely viewed as the last major piece of legislation likely to move through Congress in this election year. Lawmakers in both parties sought to attach their top priorities.
The White House is pleased with the increased military spending, but displeased with the lack of complete funding for a border wall. That didn’t stop the President from touting the budget bill as a victory:
Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
The Freedom Caucus, on the other hand, is generally displeased with the entire bill considering how much it adds to the national debt and certain provisions which are being tacked on, such as a measure to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Check system, called the “fix NICS” provision.
More from The Hill on the background check measures which are also bringing down the bill:
House conservatives, who say House GOP leaders promised not to delink the two issues, expressed disappointment on Tuesday that their leadership was considering including the stand-alone Fix NICS bill, but said it probably wasn’t enough to call for a leadership change.
“It would just be another one in the long list of broken promises,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told The Hill. “We knew they were never going to stick to that.”
Democrats, meanwhile, support Fix NICS, but they say it doesn’t go far enough to address gun violence.
Meanwhile, Democrats want to see a DACA fix dropped in, and claim that without such a measure, it might not make it out of the House:
Dozens of House Democrats are likely to vote against the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill if the final deal, which leaders hope to announce Wednesday afternoon, does not include a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
House Democrats have been frustrated for months by Republicans’ refusal to allow a floor vote on legislation to protect so called-Dreamers — DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. They’ve voted against several stopgap spending bills because of congressional inaction to provide a permanent replacement for DACA, which President Donald Trump tried to end effective March 5 but federal court rulings have kept alive.
More than half of the Democratic Caucus voted against the most recent continuing resolution, which is set to expire midnight Friday, that carried a budget deal setting topline spending levels for fiscal 2018 and 2019, among other things, because DACA remained unresolved.
The actual main legislation we’re talking about here is a spending bill to keep the federal government operating. However, it is impossible in Washington today to pass a “clean bill” on any subject without demands from both sides on certain things that have nothing to do with the core intentions of the primary legislation. In this case, Democrats want a DACA fix, and Republicans are arguing over background check provisions, among other things.
The game of spending bills has become a hostage situation with both sides giving demands and threatening to torpedo the legislation without their demands being met. There is something to be said for single-subject rules when it comes to crafting legislation. Roughly fifteen states follow such a pattern which means that legislation can only consider one issue at a time. In other words, there can be no massive “comprehensive” bills which start as one thing, but end up affecting a dozen other things which have nothing to do with the core subject.
In the end, something will pass before the weekend to avoid another government shutdown. It’s just a question of which side blinks last, and which side wants to avoid a shutdown heading into spring campaign season for 2018.