House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a plan to avoid a shutdown fight weeks before the midterm elections in November.
Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees announced Thursday that they had a deal on a major funding package for the Defense and the Health and Human Services departments along with a short-term spending bill to fund agencies covered in separate legislation they are still negotiating. The funding would extend through Dec. 7. Both chambers are expected to vote on the measure before the Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.
If approved, the agreement would postpone the debate over money for President Trump's border wall until December, when a lame-duck Congress will be in place. House and Senate leaders worked closely with spending negotiators on the package, but the White House has not said whether Trump supports the bill.
"We look forward to reviewing the bill when it's released,"said deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters.
The bipartisan agreement was announced hours before the House voted 377 to 20 on a separate three-bill spending legislation that covers energy and water, the legislative branch, and military construction and Veterans Affairs programs. That package, known as a minibus, passed the Senate 92-5 on Wednesday, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement afterwards saying the president would sign it.
Some House conservatives voted against that bill and plan to oppose any upcoming spending agreements over concerns that Republicans gave too much away in the negotiations. Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, R-N.C., was among those who have threatened to vote against any spending bills that don't cut spending and reflect other GOP priorities.
"House Republican priorities were shut out across the board," Walker said in a written statement hours before the vote. "In the next round of appropriations, conservatives are looking for the conferenced legislation to reflect conservative policy riders such as the ones in the House bill. Unless this is done, many of our members will find it difficult to support this funding."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., dismissed the criticism Thursday, saying compromise was necessary to get a bill passed with bipartisan support.
"When you're negotiating with two parties in four corners, you're not going to get everything you want," Ryan said. "That is how negotiations and compromise and legislation works."
The spending bills are expected to pass easily without conservative support thanks to significant support from Democrats.
It is unclear exactly when the House and Senate could vote, but leadership aides said they expect to send the bills to the president before the Sept. 30 deadline.
The agreement includes the often-controversial labor, health and human services bill and funding for the Department of Defense. If passed, it will be the first time in more than a decade that Congress has reached an agreement on full-year versions of those bills ahead of a potential shutdown.
In recent weeks, Trump has alternated between indicating he wanted to avoid a shutdown over money for a border wall and saying that a fight over the issue would be good politics before the midterms.