Senate passes bill to fund government through September
WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday gave final legislative approval to a $1.2 trillion spending bill to keep the government open through September, a measure President Donald Trump is expected to sign before Friday's deadline.
Senators from both Republican and Democratic parties voted in favor of the bill, which passed 79 to 18 in Trump's first major legislative accomplishment but far from the victory he had once hoped for, providing only minimal changes to spending levels.
Under the compromise measure, the Pentagon's funding increased, a priority that had been laid out by Republicans and Trump. It also funded Democratic priorities, including health care subsidies. Only Republicans voted against the measure, with some citing the lack of spending cuts and the need to provide more widespread systemic changes to government.
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"This bill is far from perfect, but it's better than how we are spending our money today, better than how we were spending our money a year ago," Republican Senator Roy Blunt said on the Senate floor.
Democrats also claimed victory in the passage of the legislation, arguing that it fails to fund Trump's priorities including money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, thebill funds subsidies for health care coverage provided through the Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislation.
The spending bill does not include many of the spending cuts on domestic programs Trump had sought and adds $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $295 million for Puerto Rico's underfunded Medicaid healthcare for the poor and $407 million for firefighting in Western states.
The legislation adds $12.5 billion in defense spending. It makes $2.5 billion more available after Trump gives details on his plans for fighting the Islamic State militant group.
The bill was approved months after the Oct. 1 deadline to pass government funding for the fiscal year. For the past seven months, federal agencies have been operating mainly on simple extensions of the previous year's funding and the priorities that came with that. (Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Grant McCool)