The 1,169-page, $333 billion spending bill that President Trump plans to sign into law removes the threat of any further government shutdowns — at least until October.
But only a few pages of the legislation deals with the U.S.-Mexico border wall that Trump has demanded — or “primary pedestrian fencing,” as legislators wrote into the text. The rest of the bill focuses on other border security measures, as well as funding for scores of federal departments and agencies whose budgets have been held hostage for months because of the border standoff.
Here’s a sampling of what the bill contains:
• $1.375 billion for new border barriers. Trump didn’t get any of the $5.7 billion he demanded for a concrete or steel wall. The $1.375 billion is enough for 55 miles for “pedestrian fencing” in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, but that money is subject to numerous restrictions. The barriers can only use existing designs, and they are banned in five ecologically or historically sensitive areas, including the National Butterfly Center, which had sued the federal government to stop construction of the wall and other use of its land along the border. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security must consult with local officials before embarking on construction.
• More technology, port infrastructure and Customs and Border Protection officers. The Trump administration could hire as many as 1,200 new Border Patrol officers under the agreement, and it won $100 million in technology funding aimed at the stretches of border between ports of entry, as well as another $112 million for aircraft and sensor systems. A larger amount — $564 million — is aimed at beefing up scanning capability at the ports, where the majority of drug smuggling and human trafficking occurs.
• A soft cap on ICE detention capacity. Democrats pushed in negotiations for a hard cap on how many people Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers could detain — arguing that the agency needed to focus its efforts on criminals, not otherwise law-abiding immigrants who are in the country illegally. The bill contains a provision aimed at lowering the detainee cap from the current level of about 49,000 to about 40,000. But Republicans aides say ICE will retain flexibility to maintain or exceed its current detention levels. The bill does include new restrictions on ICE detention practices, including a ban on restraining pregnant women and mandatory public disclosure of family separation incidents.
• Federal pay raise. The agreement reverses a federal pay freeze instituted by the Trump administration late last year. Should the deal become law, government workers will see an across-the-board 1.9 percent pay increase — the same level negotiated between Senate Democrats and Republicans last year. House Democrats last month pushed for a 2.6 percent raise but retreated during negotiations. Federal workers in some areas with a high cost of living, such as Washington, will see a slightly higher raise, up to 2.2 percent.
• Increased census funding. The agreement includes a $1 billion increase in Census Bureau funding — $21 million above the Trump administration’s request — to prepare for the 2020 Census. Elsewhere across the government, the bipartisan agreement significantly boosts agencies’ funding above the administration’s requests.
• No “poison pills” on issues. Negotiators largely sidestepped various policy disputes, rejecting riders that pertained to abortion, environmental enforcement and other contentious issues. On gun policy, for instance, Democrats rejected a GOP proposal preventing the Justice Department from tracking certain sales of multiple guns to the same person. Republicans, meanwhile, turned back a Democratic rider limiting access to federal land for hunting, fishing or recreational shooting. That also means the status quo continues for existing riders, such as banning U.S. foreign aid from funding groups supporting abortions abroad and and a provision preventing the Internal Revenue Service from restricting politically oriented nonprofit groups.
While Democratic and Republican negotiators reached an accord on the key border-security flash points, they did not reach agreement on other contentious items. They include:
• Back pay for federal contractors. Democrats and some Republicans pushed to include about $1 billion in back pay for low-wage federal contract workers, such as custodial and service industry workers, who lost a month’s wages because of the shutdown. But for the first time, the White House strongly resisted paying contractors for work not done during a shutdown.
• Extension of the Violence Against Women Act. A larger dispute about rewriting the Violence Against Women Act for the first time in more than six years bled into the spending negotiations. Democrats pushed to let the existing law lapse, which would lend momentum to a planned House rewrite. But Republicans wanted to keep the existing law in place through the end of the fiscal year. Democrats say that there will be no practical impact for the time being, and they will work in the coming months to pass an revised bill.
• Disaster aid. Lawmakers from both parties had pushed to include billions of dollars in federal aid for victims of recent hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. But in the rush to complete the border accord, negotiators opted to leave the aid package off the bill. Top appropriators, Democratic and Republican, have said they expect to negotiate a separate disaster aid bill soon.