US spending deal: More military funds, none for border wall

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US spending deal: More military funds, none for border wall

Washington (AFP) – US congressional leaders on Monday unveiled a bipartisan deal funding government through September, with a compromise that includes President Donald Trump’s call for increased military spending but ignores his demand to fund a border wall.

The agreement was struck late Sunday after weeks of tense negotiations that saw the threat of a government shutdown emerge just as Trump was to mark his 100th day in office.

Congress is expected to vote this week on the new bill, which provides $1.163 trillion in overall federal spending, ahead of a Friday night deadline when government funding would expire absent a new agreement.

The leaders in the Republican-controlled Congress will need support from Democrats in the Senate in order to pass the legislation. The opposition party has hailed the spending bill as a victory because it includes no money for Trump’s border wall.

Trump made building the wall along the southern US border with Mexico one of the primary pledges of his presidential campaign, insisting it would begin within his first 100 days, a milestone that came and went on Saturday.

But Republicans are pleased because the bill adds some $1.5 billion in funding for other security efforts along the nearly 2,000-mile (3,218-kilometer) border, and boosts military spending. 

Of the trillion dollars in the bill’s discretionary spending, $598.5 billion is slated for defense — an increase of $25 billion, or 4.5 percent, above fiscal year 2016 levels.

The deal makes America “stronger and safer,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in statement, because “it acts on President Trump’s commitment to rebuild our military for the 21st century and bolster our nation’s border security to protect our homeland.”

The measure adds $2 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health.

It also maintains 99 percent of federal spending for the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump had proposed slashing EPA funds by more than 30 percent, a cut that would have led to thousands of job losses and reduced critical programs like grants for public water systems.

The agreement would keep federal operations running through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Lawmakers increase military spending in a deal to fund the US government through September
Copyright AFP/File SAUL LOEB

 

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