House Passes Stopgap Budget Bill That Hikes Funding for Defense Department


The House has passed a short-term bill to fund the federal government through March 23, USA Today reports, along a largely party-line vote of 245-182. In addition to giving the Defense Department a roughly $50 million budget increase over 2017 levels, it also provides $659 billion in funding over a one-year period for the Pentagon; the rest of the country’s domestic programs are “flat-funded” for another six weeks.

The Senate is not expected to vote for the bill as-is, the paper reports.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan called the budget bill a success for Republicans, who are trying to prevent “Senate Democrats [from holding] our military hostage for their political ploy.” Nancy Pelosi, the chamber’s top Democrat, called the bill an attempt “to starve the domestic budget” by shorting education and infrastructure projects.

On the Senate’s budget plans, which might include a longer-term fix, USA Today reports:

The House bill passed just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday they were working on a deal that would give both sides the increased spending they want. […]
Schumer said he and McConnell had agreed to lift the tight budget caps that limit how much Congress can provide for defense and non-defense domestic programs alike. The budget caps were set in 2011 as part of a push to reduce the deficit, but lawmakers have never adhered to those spending limits.
While the Senate leaders declined to offer specifics on their possible budget deal, Schumer and other Senate Democrats said the agreement would include increased spending for at least three domestic priorities: infrastructure, veterans’ health care, and combating the opioid epidemic.

The government is running on its fourth short-term spending bill—which expires Thursday night—for the fiscal year that began just four months ago.

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