- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2019

Congressional negotiators early Thursday released details of the massive spending deal — giving lawmakers less than 24 hours to read it before they’re expected to vote on it.

The bill runs to 1,159 pages, with another 609-page report containing additional instructions to the departments and agencies funded by the deal.

The Senate is expected to vote on the package in the afternoon, with the House to follow later Thursday night. If the Senate voted at 4 p.m., any senator who wanted to be aware of what he or she was voting on would have to digest two pages a minute, with no breaks, up until the vote in order to get through the bill and report.

They’d find money for 55 miles of new border “fencing” in Texas, and money to maintain a daily average of 45,274 detention beds — and authority to move cash around to go above that level, if the Homeland Secretary determines it’s needed.

Those were the two biggest sticking points that had been preventing a final deal — and a disagreement over wall money plunged the government in a record-long partial shutdown less than two months ago.

Also included is a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian workers this year, and $1 billion in additional money to prepare for the 2020 census.

Both GOP and Democratic negotiators said the deal is a compromise, which they reached because the threat of another shutdown looming at the end of this week was too much to contemplate.

“We cannot repeat the disastrous government shutdown, so it is incumbent on Congress to come together to responsibly fund our government,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey.

She said the bill denies President Trump his border wall since the legislation includes language restricting the 55 miles of additional border fencing to designs that were used at the end of the Obama administration.

In reality that makes little difference — those designs are still the most up-to-date, consisting of bollard-style barriers that allow visibility into Mexico while still being difficult — though not impossible — to breach.

The Border Patrol has called that type of fencing a “wall” for the last couple of years, and Mr. Trump in recent months has adopted that stance as well, saying the bollard-style fencing is, in fact, his wall.

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