The House on Thursday passed a $58.7 billion spending package to fund interior, environmental, financial services and general government programs in 2019, as lawmakers try to press forward on next year’s funding bills ahead of a forthcoming five-week summer break.
The legislation packaged two bills together — a $35.3 billion bill funding the Department of Interior, EPA, U.S. Forest Service and other associated agencies, along with a $23.4 billion bill that funds financial services and government programs, including efforts to fight the opioid epidemic and cybercrime.
“In addition to providing … necessary funding, the bills ensure that the federal government is working efficiently, and in the best interest of the American taxpayers,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen. “This includes streamlining federal agencies, reforming financial policies, and reducing burdensome regulatory red tape.”
The full House has now approved six of its 12 annual spending bills for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1. The Senate has passed three.
Lawmakers are trying to avert the need for another stopgap funding bill to keep the government running past September and head off another showdown after careening the government into two brief shutdowns earlier this year.
The spending levels in the package are essentially the same as they are in the current year, which Democrats said was inadequate in light of a two-year budget deal agreed on earlier this year that boosted strict caps on discretionary spending by about $150 billion in 2019.
The EPA would get about $8 billion in 2019, or $100 million less than in the current year.
“As much as it pains me to say it, we should be following the Senate and producing bipartisan bills instead of wasting time on playing political games and taking show votes to appease the right wing of the Republican conference,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the appropriations committee.
Lawmakers waded through dozens of proposed amendments as they considered the legislation on the floor this week....Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma Republican, secured amendments that prohibit funds from being used to implement Obama-era rules tied to EPA methane emissions and examining the social cost of carbon.The House also approved an amendment from Rep. Gary Palmer, Alabama Republican, that prevents funds from being used to carry out the District of Columbia’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance.Democrats unsuccessfully pushed to restore $380 million in election security funding, saying the money is particularly needed in light of President Trump’s recent equivocations on Russian interference in the 2016 election.House Republicans can muscle through spending bills through sheer numbers alone, but the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate means those bills need to garner some bipartisan support.To that end, Senate appropriators have tried to minimize the number of potentially divisive policy “riders” in their 2019 spending bills in hopes of keeping the process moving.Senate Majority Mitch McConnell announced that he’s shortening the chamber’s August break, citing the need to continue