'Dreamers' Left Behind in $1.3T Budget Bill

'No bill of this size is perfect,' Ryan says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 22, 2018 12:38 AM CDT
Lawmakers Unveil $1.3T Budget Bill
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan meets with reporters following a closed-door Republican strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 20, 2018.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Congressional leaders finalized a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill Wednesday that substantially boosts military and domestic spending but leaves behind young immigrant "Dreamers," deprives President Trump some of his border wall money, and takes only incremental steps to address gun violence. With an end-of-the-week deadline to fund the government or face a federal shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan dashed to the White House amid concerns Trump's support was wavering. The White House later said the president backed the legislation, even as some conservative Republicans balked at the size of the spending increases and the rush to pass the bill, the AP reports.

Talks continued into Wednesday evening before the 2,232-page text was finally released. "No bill of this size is perfect," Ryan said. "But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad." Leaders still hoped to start voting as soon as Thursday. A stopgap measure may be needed to ensure federal offices aren't hit with a partial shutdown at midnight Friday when funding for the government expires. The bill includes:

  • $700 billion for defense: Bargainers said the Defense Department won $61 billion more than last year, the biggest annual defense boost in 15 years. The bill includes more money for procuring ships, planes and equipment and a 2.4% pay raise for troops.
  • $591 billion for domestic programs: That includes nearly $5 billion to battle abuse of opioid drugs, $3 billion more than last year; $21 billion for transportation and other infrastructure projects; and boosts for veterans, law enforcement, and aid to states for child care.
  • $1.57 billion for President Trump to begin building his wall with Mexico and otherwise bolster border security, but not the increases Trump wanted for additional border patrol agents or added beds for detained immigrants.
  • Wildfires: The bill creates a disaster fund exceeding $20 billion over a decade to combat increasingly worse wildfires that have devastated the West in recent years.
  • Guns: Incremental steps to curb violence. One measure pushed by second-ranking Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas and backed by both parties—and even the NRA—offers additional federal grants to prod federal agencies and states to send already required records to the federal background check system
But there is nothing to help Dreamers: Protections against deportation were not revived for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children. Democrats backed the renewal and sought possible citizenship for the immigrants but were unwilling to pay the price the White House demanded: $25 billion for Trump's proposed wall. (More federal budget stories.)

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