Congress has unveiled a new spending bill that will fund the government throughout the rest of this fiscal year, ending on September 30. And, if one didn’t know it, one might reasonably conclude the Democrats are still in charge in Washington.
In all, the bill, which spends $1.1 trillion, hands the Democrats what they wanted – an additional $6 billion in domestic spending – but conservatives are left out in the cold once again. Conservative priorities were not included in the bill.
The bill includes $1.5 billion for border security, but noticeably absent is any funding for a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a major promise of the Trump administration to curb illegal immigration. Instead, the money will go toward enhanced technology and improving existing infrastructure.
There are no cuts for Planned Parenthood, a target of abortion opponents and many Republicans for its provision of abortion services. Republicans have threatened to shut down the federal government in the past over Planned Parenthood funding.
During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to build a “new special deportation task force” to remove millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. No funding goes toward such a force. The bill does, however, fund 5,000 additional detention beds.
$18 billion cut in non-defense spending
There is no sign of massive non-defense spending cuts, another goal of the Trump administration. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains nearly 99 percent of its funding, $295 million goes toward Medicaid in Puerto Rico and $4.6 billion is set aside to permanently grant health benefits to 22,000 retired Appalachian coal miners.
In a March budget proposal, the Trump administration sought to cut EPA funding by $2.6 billion. It also aimed to decrease funding for the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion. Instead, NIH will receive a funding increase of $2 billion.
So-called sanctuary cities — which limit cooperation with the federal government on immigration law in order to shelter immigrants here illegally — will not be deprived of federal funding. Trump has threatened to withhold funds from sanctuary cities in the past.
The bill does not roll back President Barack Obama’s easing of economic and trade restrictions with Cuba, a goal of some Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. It contains no language barring Americans from bringing home merchandise from Cuba or doing business with companies owned by Cuban officials or family members. Travel for educational purposes is also still allowed.
In February, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump would take a “full review” of U.S. foreign policy on Cuba.
The bill bars the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with medical marijuana use in states where it is legal.
Operators of marijuana companies will still have to deal in cash, as lawmakers rejected a proposal that aimed to make it easier for cannabis shops to use banking services.
Democrats seemed jubilant over the “victory.” As Chuck Schumer told the Washington Post, “I think we had a strategy and it worked. Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than Republicans were to Donald Trump.”
Some things never change.