America

Congress Poised To Pass $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

The U.S. Capitol. i i
Jonathan Ernst /Reuters/Landov
The U.S. Capitol.
Jonathan Ernst /Reuters/Landov

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the federal government into October and bring to an end, for now at least, the bitter partisan battles that have led to one government shutdown and threatened to push the U.S. into defaulting on its bills.

According to The Associated Press, "the GOP-led House is slated to pass the 1,582-page bill Wednesday, though many Tea Party conservatives are sure to oppose it." A Senate vote is expected by week's end and that Democratic-led chamber is also expected to pass the plan.

NPR's Ailsa Chang tells our Newscast Desk that the bill "fleshes out the broad outlines provided in last month's budget agreement on Capitol Hill."

The budget, she says, authorizes spending "for nearly every speck of government within the guidelines of last month's budget agreement. One notable difference between this bill and the December deal involves cuts to military pensions. The budget agreement announced last month reduced the annual cost-of-living increases for military retirees under 62 by one percent. This spending plan reverses that cut, but only for disabled veterans and relatives of deceased members of the military."

Reuters adds that:

"The measure eases across-the-board spending cuts by providing an extra $45 billion for military and domestic discretionary programs for fiscal 2014, to a total of $1.012 trillion. It also provides an additional $85.2 billion for Afghanistan war funding that is typically handled off-budget."

Bloomberg News notes that "funding runs through Jan. 15 [Wednesday], so lawmakers also plan to pass a separate three-day stopgap bill at current funding levels to push the deadline to Jan. 18. That would give lawmakers enough time to enact the comprehensive legislation without risking a government shutdown. The House plans to vote on the three-day measure today."

As for the politics of all this, The Hill says that:

"The series of votes this week creates opportunities for disagreements that could lead to a shutdown, particularly given the secretive talks on the bill and the possibility that members of either party will object to spending provisions.

"But neither party seems in the mood to create a huge fight over either the continuing resolution or the omnibus, which is based on spending levels set by a budget deal approved by Congress in December. Republicans in particular are keen to avoid another shutdown after their approval numbers plummeted during the 16-day shutdown in October. The GOP now wants to keep the discussion on ObamaCare's flawed rollout as much as possible."

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