The US Congress on Thursday approved a temporary funding bill to prevent federal agencies from shutting down at midnight Friday when existing money was set to expire. The following are the major items that were debated on the legislation that President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law:
Stopgap Funding: The Friday midnight deadline for action was the result of the Republican-controlled Congress failing to pass any of the regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1. Instead, the government has been operating on a series of temporary measures. This newest stopgap bill continues funding for government operations through January 19, giving lawmakers several weeks to work out a spending bill that would pay for agency activities through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
Military Spending: House of Representatives conservatives failed in their bid to attach a major defense spending increase that would fund the Pentagon through September. Instead, Congress agreed to fund the military through January 19, like most other programs. But in a move to attract support, a $4.7 billion increase was included to be used for missile defense and ship repair. Democrats and Republicans will continue negotiations on higher funding for both military and non-military programs.
Disaster Aid: An $81 billion disaster aid bill was going to be attached to the government funding bill. Instead, the House approved it as a stand-alone bill, only to see the Senate put off action until at least next month. It would build on about $52 billion already provided to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and several states hit by severe hurricanes, wildfires or other natural disasters. Democrats want to do more for Puerto Rico and some Republicans worry about the mounting costs of disaster aid.
Children’s Health Insurance: The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helps provide medical care to nearly 9 million children in low-income families, will get $2.85 billion to cover expenses through March as lawmakers seek a more permanent solution.
Obamacare: Senators put off until early next year their bid to maintain healthcare subsidies for low-income people participating in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many House Republican lawmakers dislike the idea.
Fisa: The National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will be extended through Jan. 19 as lawmakers try to reconcile competing versions of such legislation in the House and Senate.
Immigration: Legislation to protect “Dreamers” from deportation was not included, despite Democrats’ push to resolve the issue by year’s end. It was a major disappointment for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and immigration advocacy groups. But negotiators are still trying to reach a deal on helping immigrants, many from Mexico and Central America, brought to the United States illegally as children. The issue is expected to come back to life in early 2018.