Late Wednesday evening, after a day of considerable debate between House Republicans and the White House, legislators released the text of the 2,232 page omnibus spending bill. Lawmakers in the House may be in for a long night of reading, as they may be casting votes on the omnibus as early as Thursday. If passed by midnight on Friday, the bill will fund the government through the end of September. Overall, the bill increases military spending by $78 billion and spending on domestic programs by $52 billion. If it fails to pass, the government might be effectively shut down on the same day hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are due to arrive in Washington, D.C. to demand action from Congress on gun control.
The Good: While the spending bill includes more than $1 billion in border security funding, Democrats secured some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, according to the Washington Post. None of it can be used for President Donald Trump’s concrete wall, for instance. Instead, the vast majority of the funding — roughly $1.3 billion — is for technology. The total funding for border security is also far short of the $25 billion the Trump administration initially sought.
Democrats mostly held the line when it comes to the number of detention beds and ICE agents, as the bill does not fund President Donald Trump’s request to increase either.
The bill also does not defund sanctuary cities, something that a number conservatives in Congress pushed for.
The Bad: Protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children was at the forefront of negotiations in late January, when Congress was yet again struggling to keep the government open. Senate Democrats ultimately caved, providing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with the votes needed to fund the government rather than pushing Republicans to fight for a DACA fix. McConnell won Democrats over with his “intention” to bring up a vote before the March 5 to protect DREAMers, but not on any specific legislation.
With that deadline come and gone, Democrats will yet again kick the can down the road for thousands of American residents who have spent the majority of their lives here.
Congress’ failure to reach a DACA deal by the March 5 deadline was both significant and insignificant, as ThinkProgress has previously reported. Thanks to two court injunctions in January and February that allowed DACA recipients to continue renewing their statuses, March 5 was not an ominous date when a flood of people reverted to being undocumented again. The date, however, did become significant for its long-term implications and the pressure it placed on lawmakers to find a solution. Injunctions can be challenged, do not cover the entire DACA-eligible population, and are only a temporary stopgap measure.
The Good: The spending bill adds another $307 million on top of the president’s budget request for the FBI to protect the 2018 U.S. midterm elections from any potential Russian cyberattacks. An additional $380 million will be allocated to states in order for their voting systems to be protected as well. The effort was primarily pushed by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) starting back in December of 2017.
The Bad: The bill doesn’t include a provision protecting the Russia investigation in the event of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sudden termination, something that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, has pushed for.
As President Trump has started to call out Mueller by name, Republicans in recent weeks have grown leery of Trump’s attacks on the special counsel. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said Trump firing Mueller would be the “end of his presidency,” while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called it “the stupidest thing” Trump could do.
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
Nonetheless, Republicans don’t believe it is Congress’ job to protect the special counsel, taking the White House at its word that there are no plans to fire Mueller.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told CNN. “I think it’d be a bad mistake for the President to fire the director. And I don’t think he’ll do it, so I don’t see any benefit in trying to pass a law.”
The Good: Reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood will remain eligible to receive federal grants.
The Bad: A bipartisan fix to stabilize the Obamacare marketplace, put forth by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), did not make it into the final spending bill — resulting in a missed opportunity to stabilize the markets, and a new opportunity for Republicans to attack Democrats for premium increases ahead of the midterm elections.
Republicans attached a Hyde Amendment-style provision to the health care language, which would have effectively extended the ban on taxpayer funding for abortion procedures. Democrats refused to support additional abortion restrictions in the legislation, which Murray referred to as a “complete non-starter.”
The Good: Included in the spending bill is a policy rider known as “Fix NICS” that would incentivize state and federal authorities to report more data to the country’s gun background check system. The funding measure will also include money for a House-passed school safety measure designed to help train personnel and strengthen security in schools — two provisions that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) advocated for after 17 people were killed in a school shooting in his home state.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 21, 2018
While the final version of the omnibus did not eliminate the Dickey Amendment — which mandates that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control” — it does state that “the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.”
The Bad: The massive spending bill does not include any significant new restrictions on gun purchases — something student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have explicitly called for.