What's in the spending deal

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Congressional negotiators reached a bipartisan spending agreement late on April 30, to 
fund the government through September. Here are the Republican and Democratic wins 
in the $1 trillion funding package. (The Washington Post)
Democrats believe they have set the stage to block President Trump’s
 legislative priorities for years to come by winning major concessions
 in a spending bill to keep the government open.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority 
Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) secured nearly $5 billion in new
 domestic spending by exploiting disagreements between President
 Trump and GOP lawmakers over spending priorities.
Democrats’ lopsided victory on the five-month deal, which is likely to
 be approved this week, means it will be very difficult — if not impossible —
 for the GOP to exert its will in future budget negotiations, 
including when it comes to Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint.
That’s because Republicans are hopelessly divided over how much 
to spend on government programs, with a small but vocal minority
 unwilling to support such measures at all. That has forced Republicans
 to work with Democrats to avoid politically damaging government
And that means Democrats are in the driver’s seat when it comes
 to budget battles, even with Trump in the White House.
“I think we had a strategy and it
 worked,” Schumer said in an 
interview with The Washington Post.
 “Democrats and Republicans in 
the House and Senate were closer
 to one another than Republicans 
were to Donald Trump.”
The extra money for domestic programs will now be that much harder
 to strip out of future budgets, and Trump’s priorities, such as money 
for a wall along the border with Mexico, could be more difficult to 
“We can’t pass anything without them,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a
 top deputy to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said
 of Democrats recently.
Hill Republicans remain skeptical of, if not openly hostile to, many
 of Trump’s plans — including the wall and proposals to slash millions
 from programs such as the National Institutes of Health and foreign aid.
In addition to the $5 billion in domestic spending, the bipartisan
 agreement released early Monday morning is packed with Democratic
 priorities, such as protection for funding for Planned Parenthood, a 
permanent extension of health care for coal miners and money to help
Puerto Rico make up a projected shortfall in Medicaid.
Pelosi celebrated in a letter to House Democrats on Monday, saying
 that the measure “reflects significant progress defeating dangerous 
Republican riders and securing key victories for Democratic priorities.”
“In a defeat for President Trump, the [deal] does not fund the immoral 
and unwise border wall or create a cruel new deportation force,” Pelosi 
Democrats are counting on GOP infighting over spending to guarantee 
that those parts of Trump’s agenda won’t be funded in the next spending 
deal, either.
Republicans could try to craft a new agreement to govern spending after
 Sept. 30, complete with domestic cuts and funding for Trump’s wall. 
But such a measure would probably fail in the Senate, where Republicans
 hold a slim 52 to 48 majority, short of the 60 votes needed to pass most 
Or, as they have often done in the past, lawmakers could abandon broad
 ambitions and decide to simply extend current spending levels, locking 
in Democrats’ policy victories for another year.
Republicans in Congress were unusually quiet about the deal. But White 
House aides sought to put a positive spin on areas where Trump fell 
short, including the wall.
“I think it’s great that the Democrats like the bill,” White House budget 
director Mick Mulvaney told reporters during a Monday briefing. “We
 thought it was a really good deal for this administration as well.”
He said the White House agreed not to “push for bricks and mortar for
 the wall” but to instead focus on fixing existing fencing and installing 
new lights and sensors on the border. Mulvaney was one of several top 
Trump aides who insisted that plans for wall construction would soon 
begin anew.
“Make no mistake, the wall is going to be built,” White House press
 secretary Sean Spicer said at his daily briefing, adding that there is 
plenty the administration can do to plan for construction between now 
and when Trump gets his next opportunity to secure funding.
But wall construction was one of several areas where GOP lawmakers’ 
decision to punt this week could doom the president’s priorities for the
Language in the deal explicitly prohibits money for border security 
rom being used for building the wall, for instance. Trump has said he
 plans to revive the push this fall.
Both Spicer and Vice President Pence said they considered the $21 
billion in additional military spending — $15 billion from an off-budget
 war fund and $6 billion in budget increases — to be their biggest 
victory, even though it was about two-thirds of what Trump had sought.
Additionally, there were no reductions in funding to “sanctuary cities”;
 a federal judge said last week that the Justice Department needed
 congressional approval to follow through on its threats to cut money
for such places, which don’t comply with federal immigration authorities. 
Nor was there money to fulfill Trump’s promise of a hiring spree to build
 a deportation force at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Trump also agreed to continue paying Affordable Care Act subsidies
 after his aides threatened last week to use that issue as a bargaining 
chip. The subsidies, which go to insurance companies, reduce out-of-
pocket expenses for low-income people who get coverage under 
President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.
Pence celebrated the deal Monday, saying Trump himself played a
 key role in reaching it.
“I think this morning’s announcement about reaching a bipartisan 
deal on the budget says that the American people can be encouraged 
that Washington is working again, thanks to the strong leadership of
 President Donald Trump,” Pence said on “CBS This Morning.” “Thanks
 to his direct engagement with members of Congress, we’re seeing real
But Trump’s involvement was seen by many congressional aides as 
unhelpful to reaching a deal in the bipartisan talks. Negotiators were 
nearing an agreement on the spending portions and were ready to
 move on to unrelated policy measures when Mulvaney publicly 
renewed demands that the bill include money for a wall along the
 southern border.
Mulvaney’s demand was out of sync with GOP leaders, who long ago
 said they wouldn’t seek any funding for a wall or cuts to sanctuary 
ity funding.
It also came weeks after Schumer personally told Mulvaney that the
 best way to avoid a government shutdown would be for the White 
House to stay out of budget negotiations and let Congress work its
will, according to two people with direct knowledge of the conversation.
 Mulvaney nodded, they said, and proceeded to make the demand anyway.
His office did not return a request for comment on the subject.
Democrats also believe that the White House created a public relations
 crisis when Trump threatened to end payments for the subsidies, 
which help cover roughly 6 million people under Obamacare. The 
president later withdrew the threat, and the White House decided 
to continue the payments, in hopes of reducing the number of sticking 
points in the spending bill.
But the president put a spotlight on the issue just as public polls were 
starting to show overwhelming support for the subsidies and the ACA
 in general. Democrats were thrilled to add the attack on the health-
care law to the mix in the spending fight because they thought the 
public would blame Republicans if a deal couldn’t be reached to fund 
the government, according to several Democratic aides familiar with
 the strategy.
Now, Democrats believe, the public will also blame the GOP if the
 subsidies disappear, a win-win for them.
“We had the upper hand, and we maximized that leverage,” Schumer 
said, predicting that the fight would go on. “We figured out our bottom
 line first, and we made it clear that we had the upper hand because
the shutdown would fall on their shoulders.”