Monday, May 1, 2017

The Federal Budget

Today's big news:
Bipartisan congressional negotiators reached a critical agreement late Sunday on a massive spending bill that if approved by the House and Senate would fund the government through the end of September, senior aides from both parties told CNN.

The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security but would not provide any money for President Donald Trump's promised border wall with Mexico, Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week. . . .

The bill has $1.5 billion for border security, including for technology and fixing existing infrastructure but it doesn't allow the money to spent on building Trump's wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities. . . .

Aides also agreed that the bill includes billions in new defense spending, including for the global war on terrorism, a major demand from Republicans.

In the proposal, there are no cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood, a demand from Democrats. Funding for the National Institute of Health is increased by $2 billion and there is additional money for clean energy and science funding.

Negotiators also agreed to make a permanent fix for miners health insurance and to provide $295 million for Puerto Rico Medicaid. There is also disaster aid package that includes funding for California, West Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina. There is increased funding for transit infrastructure grants and to fight the opioid epidemic, and year-round Pell Grants were restored.

Talks had also stalled over a threat by Trump to cut off Obamacare subsidies paid to insurance companies to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of some lower-income users of the Affordable Care Act, but Trump backed off that demand in the face of harsh criticism from Democrats. The subsidies will stay in place as Republicans continue their long-stalled effort to repeal Obamacare, something Trump and his aides hope to revive as early as this week.
So, no real changes. The Democrats accepted Republican demands for more defense funding and more border security, but in return insisted on no real cuts to domestic spending. Republicans agreed to keep Obamacare running until they have an actual replacement plan. Life goes on.

Of course the negotiations on the next budget are already under way.

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