by Robert Donachie
House leadership released the text of a 2,232 page must-pass spending bill late Wednesday evening that includes a number of provisions that are likely to make conservatives angry.
The legislation will keep the government funded through Sept. 30, if House and Senate lawmakers pass the bill and President Donald Trump signs it. The bill comes after months of negotiation in Congress over contentions policy issues. Many of those policy standoffs, like Obamacare subsidy funding and appropriations for the Gateway Tunnel, were not included in the final text.
House lawmakers started debating the bill Thursday morning and voted to advance the legislation for a final vote sometime Thursday afternoon. If the House fails to pass the bill Thursday afternoon, they would leave the Senate under 24 hours to debate, agree upon, and vote on the House legislation before the government shuts down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are selling the bill to their colleagues as a win because they were able to get more money for defense, for the construction of small portions of the president’s border wall and to combat the opioid crisis.
Conservatives Republicans in the House and Senate are upset with the last-minute roll out of the massive spending bill. Their anger is likely to increase after they see the number of concessions House and Senate leadership gave Democrats in order to come to a final agreement.
Here are 7 provisions in the House bill that could fire up the conservative base:
1) Border Security Falls Short
The legislation provides $1.571 billion for “physical barriers and associated technology along the southern border including to hire new border patrol agents and acquire new technology, aircraft, sensors, and non-intrusive inspection equipment,” according to a Republican Study Committee document obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
That funding would include only $641 million for roughly 30 miles of new border wall security — under half of what the president asked Congress for previously. In total, Congress is providing grossly under the $25 billion the White House asked for construction of a border wall and enhanced border security.
That breaks down to:
- $251,000,000 for roughly 14 miles of secondary fencing along the southwestern border in San Diego.
- $445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
- $196,000,000 for primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
- $445,000,000 for replacement of present fencing along the southwest border.
- $38,000,000 for border barrier planning and design.
- $196,000,000 for acquisition and deployment of border security technology.
Conservatives do not believe that level of funding is sufficient for securing the border and preventing illegal immigration.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
Congress is proposing $79.2 million for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
Conservatives have long labeled OPIC a slush fund and a means of “corporate welfare.” The conservative faction of House Republicans looked to target OPIC in 2015, calling it a “crony” capitalistic firm that exists solely for the purposes American investment in developing nations.
FIX NICS With No Concealed Carry Measures
The bill includes funding for legislation Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn put forth called “Fix NICS.”
Fix NICS requires the heads of federal agencies to submit semiannual reports to the Attorney General on how the agency is complying with federal NICS record system requirements.
The bill also includes grants to increase school infrastructure security and allows the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun control as a health issue.
Conservatives could be upset because the bill does not include provisions for conceal carry.
The bill includes the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act. The Supreme Court is considering a case that addresses an issue at the heart of the CLOUD ACT: Whether tech companies have to comply with warrants issued for electronic communications stored abroad.
The House proposal would require electronic service providers to keep and disclose records regardless of whether those records are within or outside of U.S. borders if they are required by a warrant.
Conservatives, and others in Congress, will be upset that such brand privacy concerns are included in the omnibus without oversight.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Congress is providing the TSA with $7.9 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $114.6 million from 2017.
President Donald Trump has floated the idea of raising TSA fees and Republicans have long voted against spending bill that increased funding for the agency.
JFK Opera House Funding
Lawmakers are shelling out $40.515 million in subsidies for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
House lawmakers were forced to pull a bill the last time they considered reauthorizing subsides for the arts center due to strong conservative opposition. The Republican Study Committee urged Congress to eliminate this funding.
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