The 1,582-page measure provides a $45 billion increase in military
and domestic spending to ease automatic "sequester" budget cuts and
about $85 billion in Afghanistan war funding this fiscal year.
It is scheduled for a vote in the Republican-controlled House on
Wednesday, and consideration later this week by the
The House on Tuesday approved by voice vote a stop-gap measure to
extend current funding for three days past a midnight Wednesday
deadline to allow more time for passage of the "omnibus" spending
Enactment will eliminate through September 30 the threat of another
government shutdown like the 16-day standoff in October that caused
the public's opinion of Congress to plumb new depths in polls.
The bill adds funding for some Democratic priorities such as a $1
billion increase in the Head Start pre-school education program for
the poor, but Republicans scored a partial victory when negotiators
denied a funding increase for implementation of "Obamacare" health
Republicans also succeeded in denying funds for high-speed rail
projects and for International Monetary Fund reforms. The bill also
contains a provision to ensure that the government can continue
efforts to dispose of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Republicans won a provision blocking the Department of Energy from
enforcing a phase-out of less-efficient incandescent light bulbs,
but Democrats beat back their attempt to prohibit the Environmental
Protection Agency from enacting new regulations on carbon emissions.
"It's not a perfect bill from either side, but I think it's a bill
that the president can live with and that Republicans and Democrats
can also live with," said Republican Representative Darrell Issa of
He predicted that measure would get a "large majority" of
Republicans, as well as a majority of Democrats. He added that it
was important to settle government funding to avoid it becoming a
campaign issue in this year's congressional elections.
Republican Representative Tim Griffin, a conservative with Tea Party
backing from Arkansas, said the bill represents "solid progress" on
reducing discretionary spending. He said it should win support from
many conservatives because the overall spending level is lower than
at the end of the Bush administration in 2008 and below the levels
called for in last year's Republican budget plan from House Budget
Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
But influential conservative groups including the Heritage
Foundation and Club for Growth wasted no time in urging lawmakers to
oppose the spending bill, citing continued funding for Obamacare and
other programs they regard as wasteful.
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"Instead of finding bipartisan ways to spend more money, Congress
should be focused on cutting spending so that the federal budget can
be balanced as quickly as possible," Club for Growth said in a
The second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny Hoyer, said
he would support the spending bill despite concerns over inadequate
While it's better than the $967 billion level that was slated under
the sequester cuts, the $1.012 trillion in non-war spending is "less
than necessary to grow our economy," Hoyer told reporters.
The White House said it would support passage of the measure because
it would help boost the economy.
Among provisions touted by both parties, the spending bill reverses
a pension benefit cut for disabled veterans that lawmakers said was
mistakenly included in a previous budget deal. It also provides a
$417 million boost to wildland firefighting efforts.
DEBT LIMIT LOOMS
Passage of the spending bill would leave Congress just one major
fiscal hurdle for the next nine months, an increase in the federal
debt limit that is expected to be needed by March or April to avoid
a damaging default on U.S. debt.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said that Republicans have made no
decisions on how to approach the debt limit, which Republicans have
used as a bargaining chip to demand further deficit reduction.
Last October, disputes over Obamacare funding were also thrown into
the debt limit fight, which coincided with a 16-day government
shutdown. Resolution of the shutdown helped pave the way for the
December budget deal and the spending bill.
"We have to deal with the debt ceiling here in the coming months and
no decisions have been made about how we're going to proceed but I'm
encouraged that we are going to proceed," Boehner told a news
briefing. "No one wants to default on our debt."
(Editing by David Gregorio and James Dalgleish)
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