GOP Congress rebuffs Trump and goes on a spending spree

- Maret 22, 2018

A Republican-led Congress is on the verge of passing a mammoth spending bill that broadly rejects the Trump administration’s attempts to downsize the federal government and even surpasses former President Barack Obama’s requests.

The $1.3 trillion bill, H.R. 1625 (115), is stuffed with new cash for programs that President Donald Trump and his Cabinet have protested — national parks, renewable energy programs, the Army Corps of Engineers — while delighting Democratic leaders.

“This spending agreement brings that era of austerity to an unceremonious end and represents one of the most significant investments in the middle class in decades,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared on the floor.

Among the winners in the congressional spending spree in the so-called omnibus package:

AGRICULTURE

USDA and the FDA would get $23.3 billion in discretionary funding, despite the White House’s calls for billions in cuts.

And Food for Peace, a food aid program that Trump wanted to eliminate, would get extra money, totaling $1.7 billion.


ARTS

Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts — which Trump’s budget would have cut — increases to $152.8 million. The National Gallery of Art gets $165.9 million, while the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts receives $40.5 million, both far above Trump’s request.

EDUCATION

The measure doesn’t include a single dollar for the private school vouchers that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made a key part of her tenure.

DeVos’ budget also proposed eliminating a $1.1 billion program for after-school programs. The omnibus not only rejected zeroing out the programs, but boosted them by $20 million to $1.2 billion.

The Trump budget also called for cutting the Federal Work-Study program in half — the omnibus instead gave it a $140 million boost.

The bill would block key parts of the Education Department’s effort to overhaul how it collects federal student loans.

It also boosts the funding for the Office of Civil Rights, which is in charge of investigating discrimination in schools. Appropriators said the money should be used for additional staff. The Trump administration has worked to shrink the office, which advocates complained was already understaffed.

ENVIRONMENT

The budget for the Environmental Protection Agency — which the White House sought to slash by one-third — escapes unscathed.

HEALTH

The National Institutes of Health, instead of seeing its budget shrink by $5.8 billion, will get a $3 billion increase — which lawmakers say is the largest ever.

Funding for the health department’s Title X grants program — called “America’s family planning program” — remains stable despite Trump’s proposal to eliminate it. (The administration is shifting the program’s to emphasize so-called natural family planning rather than traditional contraception.)


The Trump administration's proposed a 95 percent cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy was rejected in the omnibus.

Congress keeps funding flat for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT office. Trump had proposed to slice its budget from $60 million to $38 million.


The White House in February proposed to cut the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health — CDC’s office dedicated to workplace health — by 41 percent and fold it into the National Institutes of Health. Congressional appropriators, meanwhile, trimmed the office’s $338 million budget by $3 million, or a less than 1 percent cut.

HOUSING

Community Development Block Grants would get a 10 increase funding increase in the omnibus. The Trump administration proposed to completely zero out its budget.

IMMIGRATION

The spending bill contains no major investment for a border wall with Mexico. There’s also no crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities that harbor undocumented immigrants.

TRANSPORTATION

Instead of eliminating a key grant program for transportation projects, the omnibus triples the funding to $1.5 billion.

The bill appropriates $2.6 billion for Capital Investment Grants for transit, which Trump’s budget wanted to wind down.

Trump wanted to cut the law enforcement reimbursement program for airports. The omnibus includes funding for that, too.

Kaitlyn Burton, Dan Diamond, Tanya Snyder, Alex Guillen, Benjamin Wermund, Andrew Hanna, Michael Stratford, Catherine Boudreau and Liz Crampton contributed to this report.


 

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