Tribune Washington Bureau
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

WASHINGTON — Congress pushed forward a sweeping spending bill Wednesday, a rare bipartisan accord that will keep the government running for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year, but that President Donald Trump initially criticized for failing to include his administration's priorities.

The House easily approved the measure, 309-118, and the Senate was expected to swiftly follow, ahead of a Friday deadline when a current stopgap funding bill expires.

The $1 trillion package boosts defense spending by $12.5 billion, half of what the president wanted. Another $2.5 billion would be available if he unveils a counterterror strategy to fight Islamic State.

The package provides extra money for medical research, disaster relief and to salvage a coal miners' pension fund that was a top priority of both Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Congress declined to provide money to build Trump's promised border wall with Mexico after lawmakers from both parties bristled at the expenditure, especially since Trump had insisted on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for it. Instead, Congress settled on $1.5 billion in surveillance and other security measures, the largest expenditure on the Southwestern border in years.

Trump's initial criticism of the hard-fought compromise put him at odds with Republican leadership in Congress, who welcomed the deal as an important accomplishment that eases shutdown fears until the fiscal year ends, Sept. 30.

"When you look at the bill, there's a lot of good conservative wins here," said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.

On Wednesday, the White House said Trump now agrees that the bill is a good deal for Americans.

Republicans were particularly pleased that the deal broke the unwritten rule of parity between new defense and nondefense spending that had been part of spending negotiations with President Barack Obama.

"That's a tremendous development for this party, and a huge win for a negotiating standards going forward," said Mick Mulvaney, the White House's director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Democrats took their own victory lap for adding domestic spending, including new money to fight opioid addiction, protect the environment and extend student Pell Grants year-round, rather than enduring cuts as Trump wanted.

They also blocked more than 160 policy riders restricting abortion, loosening regulations on financial services professionals and others that Republicans wanted to tuck into the package.

Democrats failed to secure money to shore up payments to insurers that Trump had threatened to cut, which help cover costs for low-income patients under the Affordable Care Act. But the White House has said those funds will continue to flow through administrative action, at least for now.

Mostly Democrats used their leverage to stop Trump's border initiatives — money for the border wall and more deportation officers — denying the president a political down payment on a top campaign promise.

"The ominibus reflects significant progress," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., listing money for the Environmental Protection Agency, aid for Puerto Rico and other "initiatives some wanted to cut but we're happy survived."

Mulvaney criticized Democrats for "spiking the football." The administration promised to play hardball in the next round of negotiations this fall.

"Our country needs a good 'shutdown' in September to fix mess!" the president tweeted.