Bloomberg Law
Dec. 17, 2019, 7:19 PM

House Passes $1.4 Trillion Spending Plan With Tax Provisions

Erik Wasson
Erik Wasson
Bloomberg News

The House passed two giant spending bills Tuesday providing $1.4 trillion to fund the U.S. government through September and avoid a government shutdown after current funding runs out Friday.

The bill to fund defense-related departments passed on a 280-138 vote. The other, to fund non-defense agencies and extend a number of expiring tax breaks, passed on a 297-120 vote. The spending bills are the product of weeks of bipartisan talks, and they now head to the Senate where they are expected to pass.

President Donald Trump “is poised to sign” the bills, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday. The president last year encouraged Republicans to hold out for more taxpayer money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, leading to a 35-day partial government shutdown.

“This legislation makes a robust investment in rebuilding our military and secures significant funds for the president’s border wall system,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama. “Our hard work over the past few months has ensured a bipartisan path forward to complete our fiscal year 2020 appropriations process.”

The spending deal provides $1.375 billion for Trump’s southern border wall -- much less than the nearly $9 billion the president sought -- and allows him to raid military accounts for more funding over Democratic objections. Democrats did not agree to replenish military construction funds that Trump redirected to wall construction after the shutdown ended earlier this year.

Democrats are also touting an increase in discretionary spending by $44 billion, compared with current levels.

“All Democrats can take great pride in this strong appropriations package, which achieves critical victories for the health, financial security and well-being of the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

Extra Provisions

The defense-related bill is H.R. 1158; the non-defense measure is H.R. 1865.

The bills are loaded with extra provisions sought by lobbyists -- including extensions of tax breaks and the repeal of some taxes to fund the Affordable Care Act. The measures tax provisions are expected to add $426 billion to budget deficits over the next decade.

The tax provisions were added early Tuesday after a flurry of negotiations over the weekend. The deal would extend a $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit and a break for short-line railroads through 2022. It would also renew more than two dozen incentives through 2020, including a credit for wind energy, a tax cut for beer producers, subsidies for motorsport racetracks, and a credit for investing in low-income communities.

The spending package doesn’t include an extension of a solar tax credit or an expansion of an electric car credit that were sought by Democrats but opposed by the White House.

The plan repeals a trio of Obamacare taxes, including the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, a health insurance industry fee that would have taken effect next year, and a 40% excise tax on the most generous and expensive health-insurance plans, known as the “Cadillac tax,” which would have hit in 2022. Lobbyists for corporations and unions have lobbied for years for these repeals.

Tobacco Purchasing Age

The package also raises the age for tobacco purchases to 21, extends the U.S. Export-Import Bank for seven years and renews the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30.

The spending portions of the bills give both Republican and Democratic appropriators something to cheer.

Republicans won a $22 billion increase in overall defense spending, their highest priority, along with a 3.1% pay increase for U.S. troops.

Democrats point out the package also provides a 3.1% pay increase for federal workers, $425 million for a program to secure next year’s election and $7.6 billion for the Census -- $1.4 billion more than Trump wanted. The bill would grant $25 million for gun violence research for the first time in decades.

Lawmakers won’t be getting a raise through the bills, because a decade-long pay freeze will continue after Republicans opposed a Democratic attempt to end it. Republicans said there is no way Trump will reward legislators who plan to impeach him on Wednesday by signing a pay raise.

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Erik Wasson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Joe Sobczyk at

Anna Edgerton, Laurie Asséo

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