Senate Sends 2,232-Page Omnibus Spending Bill to Trump
Passage follows House action Thursday, the day after text was unveiled
The Senate cleared the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package early Friday, less than 24 hours ahead of what would have been a government shutdown.
Following the 65-32 vote, north of the 60 votes needed for passage, the bill now heads to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.
Before the Senate could vote on the measure, leaders had to resolve objections large and small.
Behind the scenes Idaho Republican Jim Risch pointedly objected to language providing for the naming of the White Clouds Wilderness in his home state for former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus.
Andrus, who died last year, was a longtime political rival of Risch’s, dating to the latter’s time as majority leader of the Idaho state Senate.
The omnibus agreement arrived from the House carrying a provision that would make law language to name the wilderness area, authored by Republican Rep. Mike Simpson, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Watch: McConnell: Omnibus Not ‘Perfect’ But Contains Victories
According to aide familiar with the discussions, Risch would not allow a unanimous consent request to speed up a final vote on the $1.3 trillion omnibus without assurances from the House that it would take up his fix.
But the House is not expected to accept the omnibus correction from Risch, according to Republican senators familiar with the conversations. As such, Simpson appears likely to prevail in the renaming battle.
The cause for objection from Sen. Rand Paul was more public and predictable.
He allowed the vote to go forward after sharing on Twitter highlights from roughly a quarter of the 2,232-page bill, which includes all 12 of the regular appropriation bills for fiscal 2018 that runs through the end of September.
“Victory for conservatives today is that all of America now knows what a budget busting bomb this bill is. Hopefully, today’s battle will embolden conservatives to descend on Congress and demand Constitutional government,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Paul’s Senate colleagues were eager to insist on the votes and send the bill to Trump’s desk. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney explained to reporters Thursday that the administration is fully on board.
“We do not control the Senate,” Mulvaney said, “So we had to give Democrats something. … We had to give away things we didn’t want to give away.”
Paul and Risch were far from the only lawmakers concerned about the contents of spending package or the process of voting. It sailed through the House less than 24 hours after the text was released, where the only real suspense was about the vote on the rule for floor consideration.
The House vote on final passage was 256-167.
Wins all around
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul’s Kentucky colleague, had moved to limit debate on the bill earlier Thursday, ensuring that the legislation could get through the Senate before the end of the weekend, regardless of any objections.
“Months of in-depth, bicameral, bipartisan negotiations and committee work have led up to this point. The result is legislation that neither side sees as perfect, but which contains a host of significant victories and important achievements on behalf of the American people,” McConnell said earlier Thursday.
“First and foremost, in my view, this bill will mark the end of disproportionate and harmful cuts to Department of Defense funding,” he said. “It delivers the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in fifteen years. These new funding levels will ensure the training and tools available to our servicemembers remain on the cutting edge. And at long last, veterans will receive more transparent and more accessible care.”
Democrats also highlighted significant victories for domestic and diplomatic spending.
“The bill strongly rejects the partisan package passed by House Republicans in September, which would have recklessly slashed funding for domestic priorities by $68 billion below the bipartisan agreement introduced Wednesday,” Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said. “Most importantly, this bill rejects the devastating cuts proposed by the Trump administration. These included the President’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, which helps ensure we have clean air and drinking water.”
The package also includes a bunch of needed extensions and reauthorizations for programs from the Federal Aviation Administration to the Federal Communications Commission, as well as mandatory funds for rural communities in the West.
John T. Bennett contributed to this report.