US Congress Races to Pass $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill
(VOA): U.S. congressional leaders have reached a deal on a $1.3 trillion spending bill as a budget deadline looms. Lawmakers now have until midnight Friday to approve it and prevent the year's third government shutdown. Passage of the massive bipartisan effort seems certain. The bill, which will keep the government funded until the end of September, has President Donald Trump's support, the White House said in a statement released Wednesday. "The president had a discussion with (House) Speaker (Paul) Ryan and (Senate) Leader (Mitch) McConnell, where they talked about their shared priorities secured in the omnibus spending bill," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Deadline late Friday The bill will give Trump a huge budget increase for the military, including a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel. It also will include a measure strengthening the federal background check system for gun purchases. WATCH: Federal Budget Explainer The "Fix NICS'' measure would provide funding for states to comply with the existing National Instant Criminal Background Check system and penalize federal agencies that don't comply. It also will include money to improve school safety, including money for training school officials and law enforcement officers on how to identify signs of potential violence and intervene early, installing metal detectors and other steps to "harden'' schools to prevent violence. GOP aides said that Trump will win $1.6 billion for a wall and physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Trump would be denied a far larger $25 billion request for multiyear funding for the project. To the Democrats' disappointment, the bill makes no mention of protections for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. No insurer subsidies It also won't provide subsidies to health care insurers who cut costs for low-earning customers. And it won't have federal payments for carriers to help them afford to cover their costliest clients. Both parties touted the $4.6 billion in total funding to fight the nation's opioid addiction epidemic and a record $3 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health. The House is expected to vote on the bill by Thursday, followed quickly by the Senate, to meet Friday's midnight deadline.
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Published Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2018 | 12:45 AM