- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The spending agreement advanced Tuesday by the House delivered key wins for the Trump administration on defense and for House Democrats on health care and gun violence, while angering those who care about the nation’s growing debt and deficit spending.

With a vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump looming this week, his administration secured additional funding for defense and maintained spending levels for his border wall. The agreement also satisfied House Democrats’ funding priorities on such items as health care and gun violence research. But the compromise failed to please members of Congress concerned about the nation’s fiscal health.

Rep. Chip Roy said on the House floor Tuesday that the spending legislation included massive policy changes that should be voted on individually. The Texas Republican labeled the legislation “a massive, unreadable, 2,313-page bill filled with government-expand[ing] goodies and spending” that was made available to members of Congress one day before the vote.

“The biggest problem is we haven’t read the bill,” Mr. Roy said. “Days like today, everyone declares bipartisanship. But in this version of bipartisanship, it is the bipartisan smell of Christmas jet fumes and everyone’s desire to get home fueling the worst kind of bipartisanship.”

Mr. Roy’s liberal counterparts similarly opposed providing their tacit approval to their ideological opponents. The Congressional Progressive Caucus refused to support the legislation because of its inclusion of “funding for President Trump’s immoral mass detention policies and unchecked and wasteful Pentagon spending.”

“We cannot support legislation which enables a cruel president and administration to continue to use immigrants as political pawns and ignore the will of Congress by transferring money that was authorized for essential priorities to the president’s own vanity projects,” said Reps. Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal, Progressive Caucus cochairmen, in a statement Tuesday opposing the bills.

The House voted on two separate spending packages containing all 12 fiscal 2020 spending bills. Included in the packages are nearly $1.4 billion for Mr. Trump’s border wall, $425 million for election-security grants, and $25 million to fund gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other funding priorities.

The proposed legislation also raises the purchasing age for tobacco to 21, guts three Obamacare taxes, and prevents Mr. Trump from using “nuclear options” to undermine the health care law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cheered the deal in a statement Monday evening, shortly after the text of the legislation was made public.

“All Democrats can take great pride in this strong appropriations package, which achieves critical victories for the health, financial security and well-being of the American people,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “We salute [House Appropriations] Chairwoman Nita Lowey and all the appropriators for working around the clock and across the aisle to achieve an agreement that reflects our Democratic values and advances our priorities for the people.”

Congressional appropriators — Ms. Lowey, New York Democrat, and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman — announced a deal late last week after huddling with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Following the House’s votes, the Senate is expected to act Thursday or Friday before leaving town for Christmas. Funding for the government expires at the end of Friday, if the spending agreement is not enacted.

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