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Appropriators reach spending agreement, fend off possibility of government shutdown

Jennifer Shutt, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Republicans and Democrats reached agreement "in principle" Thursday on $1.37 trillion in government funding, staving off the possibility of another shutdown just a week before spending is set to run out, according to Appropriations Committee leaders.

The deal -- reached just hours after a meeting between Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby -- ends months of tense negotiations that revolved around border wall funding.

"We have an agreement on all 12 (fiscal 2020) bills," Lowey, D-N.Y., told reporters after meeting with her Appropriations counterparts.

"We've had a good day. We've had some serious discussions and we believe that we're where we need to be," added Shelby, R-Ala.

Appropriators plan to give the Trump administration $1.375 billion for border barrier construction, significantly less than the $5 billion the White House hoped to receive in new funding for the Department of Homeland Security, but the same amount Congress approved in fiscal 2019, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Congress also will not backfill $3.6 billion in military construction funds that the White House diverted earlier this year to the border wall, despite the administration pushing for that funding, the source said. Trump will be able to retain his ability to transfer funding from Pentagon accounts to the border wall, the source added.

 

The agreement will be drafted into legislation this weekend, with the House and Senate expected to hold floor votes next week on at least two packages.

"It is my hope that we will consider those appropriations bills on the floor on Tuesday; perhaps a series of minibus packages to fund all of government for the remainder of the fiscal year," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said Thursday afternoon.

Hoyer said he'd discuss with Lowey how many packages they plan to put on the floor. Both parties have pledged to avoid another omnibus bill encompassing all 12 bills since the fiscal 2018 law was enacted in March 2018.

In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats will need to reach a timing agreement if the bills are to pass before a temporary spending bill expires Dec. 20 at midnight.

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