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House passes $1.4 trillion spending package to avert government shutdown

Bipartisan deals made despite impeachment

The House on Tuesday passed a $1.4 trillion spending package that would fund federal agencies through September 2020 and avoid a government shutdown.

The sweeping measure, which is divided into two legislative packages, now heads to the Senate to clear before government funding runs out at midnight on Friday. The package is the result of months of negotiations between Democrats, Republicans and the Trump administration. President Trump is expected to sign it. 

The first package, which is primarily focused on domestic spending, passed 297-120. The second package, which funds the Defense Department, passed 280-138. 

The $632 billion domestic measure provides more than Mr. Trump requested for the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Meanwhile, it provides $738 billion in defense spending, which is less than the $750 billion the president proposed.

The vote comes as Congress is wrapping up unfinished business before lawmakers head out of town for the holidays. The House is also expected to vote this week to impeach Mr. Trump and to approve his renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, which makes good on one of his campaign promises.

The last government shutdown, which lasted 35 days, began last December and was triggered by the president's push for Congress to provide him with $5 billion to fund construction of the border wall. The $1.4 trillion spending measure passed on Tuesday keeps funding for the barrier unchanged at $1.375 billion.

Negotiators also agreed to provide $7.6 billion for the 2020 Census, which is $1.4 billion more than Mr. Trump's requested amount.

Still, the Hispanic and progressive caucuses of Congress oppose the spending deal. The Hispanic Caucus had pushed for restrictions on how the Department of Homeland Security can transfer funds between agencies for immigration enforcement. 

"Without transferability restrictions, this spending bill is effectively a blank check that will allow the Administration to continue redirecting billions from real national security priorities to instead inflict cruelty and militarize our border," said the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a statement.

Tucked into the spending package is the permanent repeal of Obama-era taxes that were implemented under the Affordable Care Act, including the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance plans and a tax on medical devices. 

A provision was also included that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. 

Democrats, who control the House, are cheering several of their priorities in the mammoth legislation, including $25 million for gun violence research — the first time money has been provided for this kind of research in more than two decades — and $425 million for election security grants. They also touted a 3.1% pay raise for federal civilian employees and reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which provides financing to foreign companies and governments for the purchase of U.S. products, until the end of 2026.

The spending package re-ups the federal flood insurance and terrorism risk insurance programs, and it secures health care and pension benefits for roughly 100,000 retired coal miners — a provision that was championed by Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.

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