The measure is scheduled to pass the House later this week and the Senate next week. Trump is expected to sign it.
The legislation was hung up for several days as House and Senate negotiators haggled over provisions sought by the White House that would ensure continuation of a multibillion-dollar bailout for farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war. Democratic leaders had initially threatened to omit the provisions but backed off in face of a backlash from moderates in their own party who insisted farmers must be protected.
The resulting compromise includes language aimed at ensuring more transparency and accountability in the farm bailout program. At the same time, Democrats secured language boosting Medicaid payments for U.S. territories including Puerto Rico.
If passed and signed into law as expected, the so-called “continuing resolution” would give lawmakers more time to complete the 12 annual spending bills that must pass each year to replenish agency budgets and keep the government running. But that process is currently in disarray in the Senate, a state of affairs that was underscored Wednesday when Democrats blocked a procedural vote to begin consideration of some of the spending measures.
That followed days of partisan bickering as Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the holdup in the spending process.
Republicans claimed Democrats were blocking needed spending on defense and other programs because of their opposition to Trump’s immigration policies. Democrats said Republicans were the ones to blame because they were trying to direct billions toward Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The issue of border wall funding, which caused a 35-day government shutdown last winter, flared anew this month. That’s because the Pentagon released a list of $3.6 billion in military construction projects that would be canceled to pay for Trump’s wall under a national emergency the president declared earlier this year over opposition from lawmakers of both parties.
The question of how much money to direct to Trump’s wall in the coming budget year remains unresolved and could lead to another blowup later this year, and potentially another government shutdown if an agreement can’t be reached.
“Somehow, in the wake of all of this, the Republican leader has been accusing Democrats of threatening to block military funding. Now that is an absurd statement if there ever was one,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “We’re simply trying to stop Republicans from stealing the money from our military and putting it into the wall, which he said Mexico would pay for.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) countered that Democrats were playing politics with needed military spending.
“In a world this dangerous, uncertain funding and continuing resolutions will not cut it for our national defense,” McConnell said. “Our men and women in uniform do not deserve to have the funding for their tools, their training, and their own pay raises used as leverage by Senate Democrats to try and extract concessions from the White House.”
In recent days some House liberals have debated whether to support the short-term spending bill, or try to use the must-pass measure to block Trump immigration policies they oppose or pare back funding for the wall. Ultimately lawmakers agreed with Democratic leaders to support the legislation and avert a shutdown for now, but some are gearing up for a fight over immigration and other issues later this year.
“The Senate didn’t do their jobs — shock — so now we’ve got to do something that buys us at least a couple of months to then fight for the initiatives we have. . . . The real work happens next,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.