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1,159-Page Funding Agreement Filed for House, Senate Fast Track

Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro walks near where the border wall ends that separates Tijuana, Mexico, left, from San Diego, on Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON — Late Wednesday evening, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) filed the final agreement forged by a bicameral, bipartisan conference committee to keep the government open.

Congressional leaders are now on a fast track to get the 1,159-page homeland security funding bill pushed through the House and Senate before the government shuts again late Friday.

“This agreement denies funding for President Trump’s border wall and includes several key measures to make our immigration system more humane,” Lowey said. “It also rejects the president’s irresponsible budget cuts and instead invests in priorities that will strengthen our families, communities, and economy, like public safety, support for small businesses, environmental protection, transportation, housing and robust American global leadership.”

If it passes both chambers, the bill would head to President Trump’s desk and an uncertain fate.

“He’s not getting what he wanted. And I think he knows that. There are other ways he can get some of those dollars by reprogramming existing funds. He will get there,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told Fox News about how the bill includes far less than what Trump wanted for a border fence. “But this is an incremental process. And this is a down payment… I think the president can live to fight another day, but he’s going to get wall funding.”

In addition to the Department of Homeland Security, the bill includes appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. All were affected by the 35-day government shutdown.

The bill provides $1.375 billion — Trump requested $5.7 billion — for 55 miles of steel bollard fencing along the southern border in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. In all, Customs and Border Protection would get $14.9 billion and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would get $7.6 billion.

The top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), signed off on the conference report, saying that “with only three weeks to negotiate and prevent an unnecessary government shutdown, the conference committee has developed a strong, bipartisan package.”

“I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to provide the necessary resources to address the crisis on our southern border,” Granger said. “I am hopeful that both chambers quickly pass our legislation and that the president signs it into law.”