US House passes $1.3 trillion spending bill

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Washington, March 23 (IANS) The US House of Representatives passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill on Thursday that would fund federal agencies through September and avert a government shutdown.

In a 256-167 vote, the Republican-led chamber sent the compromise measure to the Senate, which must pass it before current funding expires late Friday night, reports Xinhua.

“The House just voted to rebuild our military, secure our borders and give our service members their largest pay raise in eight years,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said following the vote.

Though the bill had broad bipartisan support in the House, several members of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus voiced their opposition, while some Democrats rejected it for that it fails to address legal status of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or the so-called “Dreamers.”

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The legislation passed less than 24 hours after the 2,300-page bipartisan, omnibus bill was made public.

The spending package allows big spending increases for defence and domestic programmes, while adding money for infrastructure projects, veterans and measures to combat the opioid crisis, among other programmes.

It also includes measures meant to strengthen gun sale background checks and improve school safety.

But the bill also provides $1.6 billion — far short of what the Trump administration has sought — for border security measures, including construction of a border wall with Mexico.

However, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the US Office of Management and Budget, told reporters on Thursday that the president will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

He admitted that the bill was not perfect and was not exactly what the White House wanted but that would fund the president’s priorities.

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The time for the Senate vote is tight. If no senator objects, the Senate could act quickly to pass the measure, to clear the way for Trump to sign it.

–IANS

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