Here's What's in the Bipartisan Spending Bill to Prevent a Partial Shutdown


Published: 1 month ago

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Democrats rejected almost all of House Republicans’ marquee policy demands. But G.O.P. negotiators forced some spending cuts, including to the E.P.A. and the F.B.I.

Overview of the Bipartisan Spending Bill


The Bipartisan Spending Bill is a package of six spending bills that Congress is expected to take up and approve later this week. The legislation aims to fund half of the government through the fall and prevent a partial government shutdown at the end of the week [1].

The bill, totaling $460 billion, will fund various government agencies and programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department, and veterans affairs [1]. It is important to note that this bill only covers half of the government, and negotiations are ongoing for the other half of the government's funding for the rest of the year, including for the Pentagon [1].

Major Policy Changes and Funding Levels


Republicans were not successful in winning any major policy changes in the spending bill The funding levels in the bill adhere to the debt limit and spending deal negotiated last year by President Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. This means that spending on domestic programs will remain essentially flat, while military spending will see a slight increase [1].

Lawmakers rejected most of the House Republicans' sweeping demands, including blocking an increase in funding for nutrition assistance programs for low-income women and children, and halting the implementation of new rules to allow greater access to abortion medication [1]. However, Speaker Mike Johnson and his negotiators were able to secure a number of smaller demands, including cuts to the EPA and the FBI [1].

Nutrition Funding and Restrictions


Republicans opposed a bid by Democrats to increase funding for the nutrition program known as W.I.C. (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) However, Democrats secured $7.03 billion for the program, which is more than $1 billion greater than what President Biden initially requested. Democrats argued that the additional funding was necessary to keep up with rising needs [1].

Democrats also fended off an effort led by a top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Andy Harris of Maryland, to start a pilot program in several states to restrict what low-income recipients could purchase with government help through the food nutrition program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), limiting them to "nutrient dense" foods.

Cuts to EPA, FBI, and ATF


Negotiators agreed to cut funding for the EPA by nearly 10 percent, although the real reduction is only about 4 percent due to a change in how the Superfund program is paid for [1]. The Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies such as oil spills. It's worth noting that President Biden has signed legislation, including the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, that created new tax revenue to finance the Superfund program.

The FBI, which has been a frequent target of Republicans claiming that law enforcement has been weaponized against the right, would receive a 6 percent cut in funding. Most of the cut would target the bureau's budget for the construction of a new building, and funding for FBI salaries would also decrease slightly [1].

Republicans also insisted on the inclusion of a measure prohibiting the Justice Department from targeting or investigating "parents who peacefully protest at school board meetings and are not suspected of engaging in unlawful activity." This measure was a response to the Department's tracking of threats against school administrators, teachers, and board members amid heated clashes over issues like mask requirements [1].

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which Republicans criticize for regulating guns too tightly, would see a 7 percent cut in funding. On the other hand, funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would increase slightly.

Provision on Veterans and Gun Ownership


Republicans used the spending legislation to target a policy instituted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that aims to prevent veteran suicides. The policy involves flagging veterans who lack the mental capacity to handle their own finances to the federal gun background check system. Under the provision insisted on by Republicans, the VA would not be able to flag such veterans without a court order. Republicans argued that the current practice relies on an overly broad definition of incompetence and could infringe upon veterans' Second Amendment rights [1].

Abortion Access Restrictions


House Republicans had loaded up their spending bills with provisions aimed at restricting abortion access. However, none of these measures made it into the first spending package.

Conclusion


The Bipartisan Spending Bill includes funding for various government agencies and programs, with Republicans securing some spending cuts, including to the EPA and the FBI. However, they did not win any major policy changes. The bill also includes increased nutrition funding for low-income women and children, while restrictions on nutrition programs and measures to restrict abortion access did not make it into the final bill [1].


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