APPROPRIATIONS

House Dems end year with Interior-EPA spending plan

House Democrats signaled their readiness for 2019 combat with President Trump with the New Year's Eve release of an omnibus spending bill aimed at reopening the government.

The spending bill — which would fund EPA and the departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation and State — is part of the incoming House majority's push to end the partial government shutdown.

The omnibus would fund the agencies through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. A separate bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 8.

"Responsibly funding the federal government is one of the most important duties of Congress," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who'll take over the Appropriations Committee this week.

"This legislation fulfills that responsibility, reopens federal agencies shuttered by the Trump Shutdown, and ensures that the federal government is working for the American people," she said in a statement.

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She added, "When the 116th Congress convenes Thursday, our new Democratic majority will take the first step to ending the Trump Shutdown by passing this legislation, which has already garnered strong bipartisan support in the Senate."

The spending bills in the omnibus are the same that Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating for months ahead of the shutdown (E&E News PM, Aug. 1).

The package would provide $13.2 billion for Interior, including full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, and $8.8 billion for EPA. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, with its authorization lapsed, would get $425 million.

The Homeland Security continuing resolution is meant to put off the ongoing fight over whether to appropriate money for a border wall.

Today Trump tweeted, "I'm in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall. You voted yes in 2006 and 2013. One more yes, but with me in office, I'll get it built, and Fast!"

House Democrats say they plan to vote on the bills as soon as they take power Thursday. But the outlook is uncertain at best.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he won't move forward with legislation unless he knows Trump will sign it. The president has dug in on his demand for cash to fulfill his campaign promise, a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Twitter: @ManuelQ Email: mquinones@eenews.net

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