Lawmakers unveil $1.3T spending bill to avoid shutdown

By Sara Shayanian and Daniel Uria
Congress Wednesday unveiled a $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government funded through September. A bill must be passed by Friday to avoid a shutdown. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Congress Wednesday unveiled a $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government funded through September. A bill must be passed by Friday to avoid a shutdown. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- Congress Wednesday unveiled a $1.3 trillion spending package to fund the government through September and avoid another government shutdown this weekend.

The 2,232-page bill includes a $700 billion budget for defense and $591 billion for non-defense spending.


Military funding will be increased by $61 billion, including pay increases for service members.

Included in the omnibus package is $380 million in election technology grants to secure digital systems involved in U.S. elections. An additional $307 million will be granted for FBI counterintelligence efforts against Russian cyberattacks.

The bill also includes a spending increase on opioid treatment, prevention and research by nearly $3 billion. Infrastructure spending will increase by $10 billion, while another $1.6 billion will go toward new border security funding for more than 100 miles of physical barriers along the border with Mexico and related technology.


Additional funding which could be used to fund the Gateway Project, a $900 million rail proposal under the Hudson River in New York is also included. President Donald Trump had threatened to veto the spending bill if it is included.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell spoke with Trump about the plan Wednesday afternoon in a meeting White House press secretary Sarah left the president in support of the bill.

"The President and the leaders discussed their support for the bill, which includes more funds to rebuild the military, such as the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade, more than 100 miles of new construction for the border wall and other key domestic priorities, like combatting the opioid crisis and rebuilding our nation's infrastructure," Sanders said.

The spending bill also includes a measure to improve reporting to the national background check system for gun purchases and funds for school safety.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn praised the inclusion of the background check measure, known as Fix NICS.

"The calls from the American people to address gun violence in our schools and communities have been deafening, and I'm grateful we'll soon get that chance," Cornyn said. "Fixing the background check system will help save lives and reduce the likelihood of what occurred in Parkland and Sutherland Springs from happening again."


The omnibus package, however, does not cut funding for women's health care provider Planned Parenthood or pull money from so-called sanctuary cities -- two areas the Trump administration has threatened to pull money from.

It also doesn't include a resolution for the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump has moved to end.

Also absent is a measure to stabilize markets under the Affordable Care Act authored by GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said Democrats could "feel very good" about the final proposal.

"Every bill takes compromise, and there was plenty here, but at the end of the day we Democrats feel very good because so many of our priorities for the middle class were included," Schumer said. "From opioid funding to rural broadband, and from student loans to child care, this bill puts workers and families first."

Funding for the government runs out Friday. If Congress doesn't agree to the omnibus bill before then, it would usher in another government shutdown.


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