Trump's wish list rejected in deal on US spending Bill

A US border patrol agent stationed along the Mexico border in San Diego last week. The White House sought funding to begin building the border wall, but this was rejected in the bipartisan deal struck by US House and Senate negotiators early yesterda
A US border patrol agent stationed along the Mexico border in San Diego last week. The White House sought funding to begin building the border wall, but this was rejected in the bipartisan deal struck by US House and Senate negotiators early yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

No money for border wall as Congress settles on $1.5 trillion Bill to avert shutdown

WASHINGTON • US House and Senate negotiators reached a bipartisan deal on a US$1.1 trillion (S$1.54 trillion) spending Bill largely in line with Democratic priorities and rejecting most of President Donald Trump's wish list, including money to begin building a wall along the border with Mexico.

The compromise measure, released early yesterday morning, will avert a government shutdown when a one-week stop-gap funding Bill expires on Friday. It will fund the government through Sept 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Under House procedures, a vote could be held as early as tomorrow. Republican leaders eager to focus on healthcare and tax overhauls bowed to Democratic demands to eliminate hundreds of policy restrictions aimed at curbing regulations, leaving the Trump administration with few victories.

The White House sought funding to begin building the border wall, as well as US$18 billion in cuts to domestic agencies, and both demands were rebuffed. The spending deal includes money for Planned Parenthood, despite Republican demands to defund the group over its provision for abortions.

Mr Trump will be able to point to a US$15 billion boost for the Pentagon, although US$2.5 billion of that money is contingent on the administration delivering a new plan to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It also falls well short of the US$30 billion he had originally requested. The President will get US$1.5 billion for border security, but it cannot be used for the border wall or additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, according to one congressional aide.

There are also no new restrictions on money going to so-called sanctuary cities that do not fully enforce federal immigration laws.

Republicans failed to get a number of conservative provisions in the Bill, including one that would have blocked the Labour Department's fiduciary rule limiting financial advice to retirees.

Overall, the compromise resembles more of an Obama administration-era budget than a Trump one. The National Institutes of Health, for example, would see a US$2 billion boost, reflecting the popularity of medical research among lawmakers. The deal includes US$990 million for famine aid and a US$1.1 billion boost for disaster recovery.

"It is a solid Bill that reflects our common values and that will help move our nation forward, and I urge its quick approval by the Congress and the White House," House Appropriations chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said in a statement.

He said the measure represents a US$25 billion increase in national defence funding. He also noted provisions such as an extension of miners' health benefits and increases in health research and opioid addiction treatment and prevention.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which Mr Trump sought to shrink dramatically, would get a 1 per cent cut in funding and no staff cuts, said one aide. The deal would also provide US$68 million extra in local law enforcement funds to reimburse New York City and other localities for protecting Mr Trump.

"This agreement is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday night in a statement.

"The Bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren't used to fund an ineffective border wall, excludes poison pill riders and increases investments in programmes that the middle class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure."

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'Trump's wish list rejected in deal on US spending Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe