$1.1 Trillion Bipartisan Bill Restores Cuts, Gives Federal Workers Raise
Faced with yet another deadline and threat of government shutdown, Washington lawmakers acted like responsible adults Monday and unveiled a new $1.1 trillion funding bill that restores some spending cuts and will fund the U.S. government until Sept. 30. The compromise between House and Senate leaders will help fund new priorities like President Obama's expansion of early childhood education, and will provide funding for the Affordable Care Act, as well as individual government agencies, for the remainder of the fiscal year. While the bill covers an enormous range of issues from the National Institutes of Health to military aid for Egypt, there are some vital takeaways.
The bill, announced Monday evening by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), is expected to reach the House floor tomorrow.
“Not everyone will like everything in this bill, but in this divided government a critical bill such as this simply cannot reflect the wants of only one party,” Rogers and Mikulski said in a joint statement. “We believe this is a good, workable measure.”
The bill continues to ban federal funding for most abortions, which include procedures in federal prisons and the nation's capital. The bill will also fund new programs aimed at combatting sexual assault in the military, a persistent issue that has been championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y). Sequester spending cuts to medical research and job training programs would be partially restored, and cuts to Head Start, the federal early education program for children of low-income families, will be fully restored. Republicans did not agree to finance the president's aim of universal pre-kindergarten classes.
And in a far cry from the hot mess that was last October's government shutdown, federal workers will also receive a one percent pay raise — probably one of the few things everyone could agree on. (The Republicans' provision preventing Vice President Joe Biden and other senior officials from receiving a pay raise was probably not.)
The Pentagon is set to receive $573 billion in defense spending for the fiscal year, with $85.2 billion earmarked for the war in Afghanistan (around $2 billion less than in the last fiscal year) and an additional $6.55 billion for domestic disaster relief. Funding for overseas operations also includes help for the increasing number of refugees escaping the war in Syria.
The main partisan disputes focused on funding of the Affordable Care Act and money due to the International Monetary Fund. In a compromise, lawmakers agreed to let disabled veterans be exempt from cost-of-living reductions for military retirees that was introduced in a budget deal last month.