The U.S. Senate passed a four-week spending bill on Thursday, sending President Donald Trump the measure to put off a possible government shutdown until Dec. 20. He is expected to sign it before funding expires at midnight.
The Senate vote was 74-20, after the measure passed the House on a 231-192 vote Tuesday.
The stopgap measure is necessary because Congress — as has become the norm in the past decade — failed to complete action on the 12 annual spending bills needed to keep agencies operating by the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. The government is currently funded on a short-term measure that runs out this week.
Democrats and Republicans are continuing to negotiate spending levels for the 12 bills. The most problematic measure covers Homeland Security, since that would address White House demands for $9 billion sought by Trump for the border wall. Putting more money into that bill for the wall would mean less funding for other domestic priorities under the $1.3 trillion budget cap signed into law in July.
One proposal would establish spending levels for the 12 bills including Homeland Security and allow lawmakers to debate later how to pay for the wall from within the DHS budget. To do that, the price tag of the wall would need to be less than the amount Trump is seeking, according to both Republicans and Democrats.
Closer to a Deal
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, said Wednesday both sides are getting closer to a deal. He said he would support a Democratic proposal to raise the overall cap by allowing a recent veterans health-care reform law to be covered by emergency funds. The White House has opposed such a move.
“They sent us another offer and we are evaluating it,” Shelby said of his Democratic counterparts. “They are getting closer and closer on the numbers.”
Senate leaders rejected an attempt by Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, to cut the level of spending under the bill by 1 percent and to direct the savings toward highway and environmental spending.
The bill passed by the Senate extends through March 15 the elements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that are set to expire on Dec. 15. The provisions allow expanded authority to wiretap terrorism suspects, collect call record details, track “lone wolf” suspects not connected to a terrorist organization and examine business records related to terrorism investigations.