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$1.4 trillion spending package crammed with unrelated provisions

Bipartisan deals made despite impeachment
Bipartisan deals made despite impeachment 11:01

Washington — House leaders on Monday unveiled a $1.4 trillion government-wide spending package that's carrying an unusually large load of unrelated provisions catching a ride on the last train out of Congress this year.

A House vote is slated for Tuesday on the sprawling package, some 2,313 pages long, as lawmakers wrap up reams of unfinished work — and vote on impeaching President Trump.

The legislation would forestall a government shutdown this weekend and give Mr. Trump steady funding for his U.S.-Mexico border fence. The year-end package is anchored by a $1.4 trillion spending measure that caps a difficult, months-long battle over spending priorities.

Included in the package is a permanent repeal of some taxes implemented in the Affordable Care Act, including the so-called "Cadillac" tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance plans and a tax medical devices. The measure, a product of a divided Congress, also secures health care and pension benefits for roughly 100,000 retired coal miners, and increases the legal age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, from 18 to 21.

The deficit tab for the package grew as well — almost $400 billion over 10 years to repeal the three so-called "Obamacare" taxes alone — with a companion package to extend several business-friendly tax breaks still under negotiation. The Obama-era taxes have previously been suspended on a piecemeal basis.

The legislation is laced with provisions reflecting divided power in Washington. Republicans maintained the status quo on several abortion-related battles and on funding for Mr. Trump's border wall. Democrats controlling the House succeeded in winning a 3.1% raise for federal civilian employees and $25 million for gun violence research after more than two decades of gun lobby opposition.

Other add-ons include a seven-year extension of the Export-Import Bank and a renewal of the government's terrorism risk insurance program. The spending package also extends the government's flood insurance program, as well as several visa programs for skilled and seasonal workers.

Democrats in the House secured increased funding for early childhood education and a variety of other domestic programs. They also won higher Medicaid funding for the cash-poor government of Puerto Rico, which is struggling to recover from hurricane devastation and a resulting economic downturn.

The measure would also provide $425 million for states to upgrade their election systems, and Democrats boosted the U.S. Census budget $1.4 billion above Mr. Trump's request. They won smaller increases for the Environmental Protection Agency, renewable energy programs and affordable housing.

"We are scaling up funding for priorities that will make our country safer and stronger and help hardworking families get ahead," said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York.

The outcome in the latest chapter in the longstanding battle over Mr. Trump's border wall awards Mr. Trump with $1.4 billion for new barriers — equal to last year's appropriation — while preserving Mr. Trump's ability to use his budget powers to tap other accounts for several times that amount. That's a blow for liberal opponents of the wall but an acceptable trade-off for pragmatic-minded Democrats who wanted to gain $27 billion in increases for domestic programs and avert the threat of simply funding the government on autopilot.

Because dozens of Democrats might vote against the border wall, Pelosi is pairing money for the Department of Homeland Security with the almost $700 billion Pentagon budget, which is guaranteed to win GOP votes to offset Democratic defections.

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