The House passed a mammoth $1.3 trillion spending bill Thursday, less than 17 hours after releasing the 2,232-page proposal and over the fierce objections of conservative and liberal factions alike.
The House vote, 256-to-167, came after a limited debate and no amendments. Ninety Republicans voted against the bill, along with more than 70 Democrats.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where lawmakers face a similar fight and a Friday midnight deadline before the government runs out of funding. If the Senate doesn’t pass the bill before then – and the chamber’s rules allow a single senator to delay proceedings – it will trigger a partial government shutdown. President Trump has signaled he will support the bill.
The spending package would increase domestic funding by $63 billion over last year’s levels, or about 12 percent, and it would boost military spending by $80 billion, about 15 percent. Overall, the new agreement would allocate $1.3 trillion to fund domestic and military programs through Sept. 30, the end of this fiscal year.
Republican leaders touted the Pentagon budget hike as the key reason to support the bill — noting it’s the highest such single-year increase in 15 years.
“The fundamental question … in this bill is whether we’re going to preserve the primacy of the American military in the 21st Century,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said at a Thursday morning news conference. “What this bill is ultimately about is finally giving our military the tools and the resources it needs to do the job.”
Democrats highlighted the funding increases for a bevy of domestic programs, including new money to fight the opioid epidemic, to help states with election security, and to boost infrastructure spending across the country. The measure also includes funding for a tunnel between New York and New Jersey — a project President Trump opposes.
The Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said the domestic funding gains were particularly notable given that Democrats do not control Congress or the White House.
“We’ve produced a darned good bill for the priorities that we believe in,” he said.
Schumer predicted the bill would pass the Senate by a comfortable margin and said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are hoping that vote can take place Thursday.
But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who caused a brief government shutdown last month when he opposed a sweeping budget agreement, has already signaled his opposition to the measure. His spokesman declined to say Thursday if Paul planned to filibuster the deal.
“Still TBD,” his spokesman responded when asked about Paul’s plans.
In the House, conservatives supported a boost in military spending, but they opposed the plumped-up domestic spending. Many also saw this must-pass spending bill as the only chance to achieve key campaign promises — such as de-funding Planned Parenthood, ramping up immigration enforcement, and expanding gun rights. None of those controversial items were included in the legislation unveiled Wednesday night.
The spending bill did include several items unrelated to spending, including a bipartisan proposal known as “Fix NICS,” aimed at strengthening the federal background check system.
The immigration funding was one of the most contentious issues – among both parties. The bill would bolster border security by $1.6 billion, but that’s just a fraction of the $25 billion the president had sought. Trump’s requests for an increase in detention beds and interior immigration enforcement were also not included.
Conservative critics derided the immigration funding as meager and insufficient. Within hours of the bill’s release, the hard-line House Freedom Caucus announced its opposition, ensuring that Republican leaders would need Democratic support to pass the bill in the House.
“This bill barely provides for border security, yet continues to allow federal dollars to flow to sanctuary cities,” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement Wednesday night. “It includes the Fix NICS proposal without including reciprocity for Americans with concealed carry licenses … It also fully funds grants that go to Planned Parenthood while making no changes to reduce Obamacare’s burdensome regulations.”
On the other side of the political spectrum, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus also opposed the spending bill — saying it went too far in providing border security and immigration enforcement funding and didn’t go far enough on health care and gun violence. The Hispanic Caucus also lamented the failure of the bill to address the fate of the so-called DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Immigration Task Force, had a blunt message for those Democrats who supported the bill, which boosted funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, even though the money was not supposed to be used for expanded immigration crackdowns.
“You just voted to deport. You just voted to allow more agents to knock down doors and break into families’ homes and to rip families apart,” the Illinois Democrat said.
Other lawmakers complained about the rushed process — as well as the substance.
Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said he stayed up “very late” trying to read the whole bill and didn’t even make it to page 800, despite some skimming and speed reading.
“I don’t know that anybody could have read more than I read,” said Meadows, R-N.C. “So to ask for us to vote on a $1.3 trillion bill, having only read one-third of it, is not the process that most of us would support.”