WASHINGTON: Top congressional negotiators Monday night unwrapped a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pay for the operations of government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year.
The massive measure fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month. That pact gave relatively modest relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies from the deep budget cuts they would otherwise face.
The bill would avert spending cuts that threatened construction of new aircraft carriers and next-generation Joint Strike Fighters. It maintains rent subsidies for the poor, awards federal civilian and military workers a 1 percent raise and beefs up security at U.S. embassies across the globe. The Obama administration would be denied money to meet its full commitments to the International Monetary Fund but get much of the money it wanted to pay for implementation of the new health-care law and the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.
The 1,582-page bill was released after weeks of negotiations between House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who kept a tight lid on the details until its release late Monday.
The GOP-led House is slated to vote on the measure Wednesday. Today, the House is slated to approve a short-term funding bill to extend the Senate’s deadline to finish the overall spending bill until midnight on Saturday.
The measure doesn’t contain major victories for either side. The primary achievement was that there was an agreement in the first place after the collapse of the budget process last year.
To be sure, there is plenty for both parties to oppose in the legislation. Conservatives face a vote to finance implementation of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul and Wall Street regulations, both enacted in 2010 over solid Republican opposition. A conservative-backed initiative to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions was dumped overboard and social conservatives failed to win new restrictions on abortion.
But conservatives can take heart that overall spending for daily agency operations has been cut by $79 billion, or 7 percent, from the high-water mark established by Democrats in 2010. That cut increases to $165 billion, or 13 percent, when accounting for cuts in war funding and disaster spending.