Thursday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.3 trillion spending package, in a 256-167 vote, making it the largest federal spending increase in years.
The bill now moves on to the Senate, who is expected to start working on it immediately, in order to beat Friday’s midnight deadline and prevent a government shutdown.
A total of 25 conservative Republicans voted in opposition to the bill, over its massive price tag and lack of transparency in the way it was written. Thursday morning, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in an interview with Fox & Friends, “This may be he worst bill I have seen in my time in Congress,” and said it will take a while before Americans even know what’s in it.
“We just got it 12 hours ago, we’re going to vote on it in a few hours, and it’s 2,200 pages that fund sanctuary cities, funds Planned Parenthood, restricts second amendment liberties, and grows the government at a $1.3 price tag, which will lead to a trillion dollar deficit,” Jordan said.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) March 22, 2018
The Hill reported: The spending package includes $695 billion in defense funding and $591 billion in non-defense funding, including a combined $78 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending that do not count toward legal budget caps. Last month, Congress agreed to increase the 2018 spending caps by $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for non-defense, and set similar increases for 2019.
Other items included in the bill, as reported by The Hill: Among the most controversial riders were a provision providing $1.6 billion for border security, including hundreds of millions of dollars for new fence construction favored by Trump and the Republicans.
Negotiators also worked out a delicate deal on new funding for the Gateway project, a rail and tunnel initiative connecting New York and New Jersey. Trump had threatened to veto the entire package based on the initial $900 million request from regional lawmakers, notably Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). The compromise knocks the figure down to $541 million.
Other major provisions include $4 billion to fight the nation’s opioid crisis; a temporary extension to funding for the Federal Aviation Administration; and language designed to fix a glitch in the GOP’s new tax law that the critics said threatened small farmers.
In a surprise move, the package also features several gun-related provisions: one designed to bolster the background check system before firearm purchases; and another clearing the path for federal researchers to examine gun violence as a public health threat — research that’s currently discouraged by a decades-old restriction known as the Dickey amendment.