Congressional negotiators unveiled a bipartisan, $1.1 trillion spending bill Monday night that will reverse a 1 percent cut to cost-of-living increases for disabled veterans and provide $1.525 billion in aid to Egypt, among other provisions.
The measure fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month; it would fund the government through October. The budget pact gave relatively modest relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies from the deep budget cuts they would otherwise face.
The detailed bill was released by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who have worked to try to ensure that the measure doesn’t topple of its own weight.
“The Omnibus will fulfill the basic duty of Congress; it provides funding for every aspect of the federal government, from our national defense, to our transportation systems, to the education of our kids,” Rogers said in a statement Monday.
The GOP-led House is slated to vote on the measure Wednesday, less than 48 hours after it became public. In their campaign to take over the House in 2010, Republicans promised a 72-hour review period.
On Tuesday, the House is slated to approve a short-term funding bill to extend the Senate’s deadline to finish the overall spending bill until midnight on Saturday. The current short-term spending bill expires at midnight Wednesday evening.
To be sure, there is plenty for both parties to oppose in the legislation. Conservatives face a vote to fund implementation of President Obama’s health care overhaul and Wall Street regulations, both enacted in 2010 over solid Republican opposition. If history is any guide, conservative provisions on environmental and abortion policy will be tossed overboard.
But conservatives can take heart that overall spending for daily agency operations has been cut by $79 billion, or 7 percent, from the high-water mark established by Democrats in 2010. That cut increases to $165 billion, or 13 percent, when cuts in war funding and disaster spending are accounted for.
Liberals are more likely to climb aboard, but only after voting to give Obama about $6 billion more in Pentagon war funding than the $79 billion he requested. The additional war money is helping the Pentagon deal with a cash crunch in troop readiness accounts. Including foreign aid related to overseas security operations, total war funding reaches $92 billion, a slight cut from last year.
The alternative, however, is to allow automatic spending cuts to strike for a second year and even risk another government shutdown if Congress deadlocks.
At the same time, the bill is laced with sweeteners, including the provision exempting disabled veterans from a pension cut enacted last month to help pay for the budget relief in the spending bill. It contains increases for veterans’ medical care backed by both sides and fully funds food aid for low-income pregnant women and their children. The National Institutes of Health is sure to fall short of the $31 billion budget it won when Democrats controlled Congress.
Though the bill provides the billions in aid to Egypt, it also places conditions on the aid and leaves it up to the Obama administration to determine if Egypt qualifies. The country has seen political turmoil over the past couple of years after the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
The bill requires Egypt to pursue democracy, seek to enforce the rule of law, honor human rights and adhere to agreements with Israel. If not, it’s possible the US could pull the aid. Aid to Israel is also included in the bill.
Overall, the measure keeps funding for day-to-day domestic agency budgets at levels agreed to last year before cuts of 5 percent were applied to every account. Those broadly applied cuts, called sequestration, were required because of Washington’s inability to follow up a 2011 budget deal with additional deficit savings.
The spending bill nearing agreement would spare the Pentagon from $20 billion in additional reductions on top of last year’s $34 billion sequestration cut, which forced furloughs of civilian employees and harmed training and readiness accounts.
The measure combines the 12 annual appropriations bills into a single measure, a process that invariably draws complaints from lawmakers shut out of its drafting and denied any chance to alter it with amendments. President Ronald Reagan famously dropped one of the huge spending bills on the table during his 1988 State of the Union address and promised a veto if Congress sent him another, sparking a standing ovation by lawmakers.
But the annual appropriations process, which is supposed to dominate House and Senate activity in the summer months, has deteriorated to the point where the current, enormous bill is considered the best Congress can do. It stalled badly in the House this year because GOP leaders shortchanged domestic accounts, while Democratic efforts to fund agencies at pre-sequestration levels were blocked by Republicans.
The measure funds hundreds of agency accounts, ranging from the salaries of 2.7 million civilian federal workers and 1.4 million military personnel to money for education and economic development grants to local governments. It also contains funds to fight the spread of the Asian Carp to the Great Lakes, finance law enforcement agencies and the Transportation Security Administration and patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report