US negotiators reach deal on government funding

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, May 1 (IANS) US Congressional negotiators reached a critical agreement on a massive spending bill which if approved by the House and Senate would fund the government through the end of September, a media report said.

The bill would add billions for the Pentagon and border security but would not provide any money for President Donald Trump's promised border wall with Mexico, official aides told CNN on Sunday night.

Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week.

The deal was reached on Sunday night after weeks of tense but steady negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and White House officials, who debated over spending priorities but were equally determined to avoid a politically fraught government shutdown.

Aides in each party disputed some characterisations from the other side as to what made into the final proposal. But one of the key aspects they agreed on was a provision for $1.5 billion for border security, including for technology and fixing existing infrastructure. However, it does not allow the money to be spent on building Trump's multi-billion dollar wall along the Mexico border, reports CNN.

There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities.

Aides also agreed that the bill includes billions in new defence spending, including for the global war on terrorism, a major demand from Republicans.

In the proposal, there are no cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood, a demand from Democrats.

Funding for the National Institute of Health is increased by $2 billion and there is additional money for clean energy and science funding.

Negotiators also agreed to make a permanent fix for miners health insurance and a disaster aid package.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the agreement is consistent with his party's principles.

"This agreement is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shut down off the table," CNN quoted the New York Democrat as saying.

The deal means a government shut down on Friday, when agencies are set to run out of money, is unlikely.

Last week, Congress passed a one-week stopgap spending bill when it became clear negotiators needed a bit more time to finalise an agreement.