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Spending Deal Stipulates Border Security Funding Can't Build Concrete Wall

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony on Capitol Hill on March 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — The omnibus spending bill to avert a government shutdown Friday won bipartisan support from congressional leaders and backlash from House conservatives heading toward a vote later today in the lower chamber.

The spending bill is 2,232 pages long and comes with a price tag of $1.3 trillion, and got White House backing despite not including anywhere near the $25 billion President Trump sought for a border wall — and a stipulation that the money can’t be used for that wall.

“The president had a discussion with Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell, where they talked about their shared priorities secured in the omnibus spending bill,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a  statement Wednesday afternoon. “The president and the leaders discussed their support for the bill, which includes more funds to rebuild the military, such as the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade, more than 100 miles of new construction for the border wall and other key domestic priorities, like combating the opioid crisis and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted that “every bill takes compromise, and there was plenty here, but at the end of the day we Democrats feel very good because so many of our priorities for the middle class were included.”

“From opioid funding to rural broadband, and from student loans to child care, this bill puts workers and families first,” Schumer added.

The bill provides $4 billion in extra funding to battle the opioid addiction crisis and up to $541 million for a tunnel project between New York and New Jersey. And though more than $1 billion was allocated to border security, Dems won a provision that the money can go to fences and levees as well as repairs of existing infrastructure, but not toward the concrete wall envisioned by the president.

Defense spending, meanwhile, would get an $80 billion boost and troops would get a 2.4 percent pay raise.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for the United States military,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “With the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years, this critical legislation begins to reverse the damage of the last decade and allows us to create a 21st-century fighting force.”

“Unfortunately for too many years now, funding essential to a robust defense and a healthy economy has remained at an impasse based on political gamesmanship in which members of both parties share blame,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). “Our troops have become collateral damage in this dangerous game of politics, consistently being held hostage to the political issue of the moment. That is a shameful practice that has to end.”

Members of the House Freedom Caucus voiced opposition to the lack of border wall funding, and co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) vowed to vote against it and encouraged a White House veto.

“I think it’s not good for the American taxpayer, not consistent, anywhere close to consistent, to what we said we would do when they elected us in 2016,” Jordan said.

After conservatives began to voice veto support, Ryan headed over to the White House to sell Trump on the deal. Sanders issued the president’s statement of support soon afterward.

On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders focused on touting the bill’s defense allocation.

“In recent years we did not invest enough in defense, and it is only by our good fortune and the superior skill of our men and women in uniform that we have remained as secure as we have,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “But our soldiers are stretched too thin and the challenges we face are only getting more difficult. This legislation significantly increases defense funding because there is nothing more important our government can do than to protect the American people.”