- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Capitol Hill negotiators struck a deal Sunday for a spending bill to avert an end-of-week government shutdown and fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

The $1 trillion spending bill satisfied President Trump’s demand for increased defense spending and delivered wins to Democrats on issue such as continuing federal funding of Planned Parenthood and money for Obamacare subsidies.

The final details were ironed out after the Republican-run Congress gave itself more time for negotiations, passing a one-week stopgap spending bill last week before a midnight deadline April 28 when funds would have expired.

A vote on the long-term spending package is expected early this week.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said the deal was a victory for Democrats.

“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table,” said the New York Democrat. “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective border wall, excludes poison pill riders, and increases investments in programs that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education, and infrastructure.”

“Early on in this debate, Democrats clearly laid out our principles. At the end of the day, this is an agreement that reflects those principles,” he said.

Most of the major disputes preventing a long-term spending bill were resolved last week, but Republicans and Democrats continued to haggle over issues such as helping address Puerto Rico’s Medicaid funding crisis and fixing health care benefits for retired coal miners.

The president took steps to clear the way for a deal on a long-term spending bill.

Senate Democrats responded with further demands.

Mr. Trump dropped his demand for initial funding for a wall on the border with Mexico, a key campaign promise. He said enough money was already available for planning the project and more money would be authorized in the spending bill for next fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

He also agreed to continue the crucial Obamacare payments that was the top demand from Democrats. The pledge was accepted by Democratic leaders but some rank-and-file House Democrats told the Hill that they didn’t trust the president.

Despite Mr. Trump surrendering several funding priorities, such as the border wall, he won a $15 billion funding boost for the Pentagon and added spending on border security.

The deal reportedly also left out some of the White House goals of slashing domestic spending, in areas including medial research and community block grants.

Despite Mr. Trump’s pledge to continue Obamacare payments, the future of the health care law that Mr. Trump and Republicans have vowed to repeal clouded the negotiations.

Last week, Democrats threatened to oppose a spending bill if Republican proceeded with plans to vote on a new bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republican delayed the vote anyway to shore up support among members.

Mr. Schumer said Mr. Trump should give up on repeal and work with Democrats on improving the Obama law.

“He ought to realize that they ought to back off repealing Obamacare. We’ve said over and over again, if he backs off repeal, we’ll sit down and work with him to improve Obamacare,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”


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