WASHINGTON—The Democratic-controlled House passed a $1 trillion spending bill on Wednesday, June 19.
The House voted along party lines to pass the bill, which blends military spending that’s a priority for Republicans with Democratic-sought funding increases for health and education programs.
It came as senior leaders of Congress were meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top White House officials in hopes of forging an agreement to increase the government’s debt limit and to strike a bipartisan balance between the Pentagon budget and funding for domestic agencies.
Mnuchin said the group did not strike an agreement but said all sides agreed that the debt limit would not be held hostage to demands for new spending. He said President Donald Trump wasn’t interested in repeating a government shutdown and would accept a spending freeze at current levels.
Washington faces a series of deadlines this fall, first to avert a repeat of this year’s partial government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts in October. In late October or so, the government is scheduled to run out of authority to borrow money to pay all its bills, which could lead to a default on U.S. interest payments on its debt. Automatic spending cuts known as sequestration could strike early next year and cut about 10 percent from agency budgets.
Wednesday’s Democratic spending bill boosts the Pentagon budget by about $16 billion over current levels, about a 2 percent increase, while giving health, education and labor programs an almost 7 percent boost. Those numbers would have to balance out more to gain Trump’s signature.
By Andrew Taylor