$1-Trillion Spending Bill To Be Voted On This Week In Congress

It keeps the federal government funded through Sept. 30th.


Washington DC (KM)  Legislation to allow the federal government to continue operating through September 30th is expected to be approved this week by both Houses of Congress. The bill was agreed to on Sunday after weeks of negotiations. The details were released during the early morning hours on Monday.


“I think there’s some relief that we finally got an agreement. We should have done this months ago,” says Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md). “But we now have an agreement that will take us through September of this year with predictable funding.”


The legislation, totaling $1-trillion, has bipartisan support, and rejects cuts to programs such and medical research and infrastructure grants. Cardin says it contains some good news for Maryland. “There’s more money for the Chesapeake Bay program. There’s money for the Appalachian Regional Commission. There’s money for a lot of the programs for our agencies that are located in Maryland. So it gives predictable funding through the end of September,” he says.


But there is no money for building  a wall along the US–Mexican border, something President Trump promised to his supporters during the 2016 campaign. “I do think there was pretty universal views among the members of Congress that the most important priorities for border protection is to improve technology. and not to build a wall. The wall won’t keep people out;  nor will it keep drugs out,” says Cardin. “But the border patrol people need better equipment. So funds will be made available for technology, but not for a wall.”


Representatives and Senators are expected to vote on this budget bill this week.


Even after that, Cardin says Congress will have to deal with a number of issues related to funding, including the creation of a fiscal year 2018 budget. “We also have a debt ceiling that we need to deal with. We have a tax code that needs to be reformed. So we have a lot of issues that we’ve got to deal with on budgets that we really should start immediately,” he says.


Senator Cardin says he’s also hopeful that the House and Senate can come to agreement on these and other issues before fiscal year 2018 begins on October 1st. “I hope the spirit of compromise that allowed us to reach this budget agreement will continue,  and that we’ll see reason prevail and people willing to listen to each other and compromise for the good of our country. That’s what we need to do,” he says.


By Kevin McManus