(Adds details from House Democratic leader Pelosi)
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON, April 30 U.S. congressional
negotiators have hammered out a bipartisan agreement on a
spending package to keep the federal government funded through
the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, a senior
congressional aide said on Sunday.
The House of Representatives and Senate must approve the
deal before the end of Friday and send it to President Donald
Trump for his signature to avoid the first government shutdown
On Friday, congressional sources familiar with the
negotiations said the deal could include an increase in defense
spending for this year totaling around $15 billion. But details
of the defense portion of the agreement that was struck over the
weekend were not immediately available.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the agreement
would increase funding for Puerto Rico's Medicaid healthcare
program for the poor, which is facing shortfalls later this
year. She did not specify how much more money Puerto Rico would
Pelosi added that the massive spending bill will also
increase funding for several Democratic priorities, including
the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion this year. The
measure would deliver permanent health benefits for coal miners
and their families who faced losing their insurance next month.
During the negotiations, Democrats pushed to protect funding
for women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, but details
were not yet available.
The House is likely to vote first on the package, probably
early in the week and send the measure to the Senate for
approval before Friday's midnight deadline when existing funds
Republicans who control Congress and opposition Democrats
have been in intensive negotiations for weeks over the
legislation that would provide around $1 trillion in Washington
money for an array of federal programs, from airport and border
security operations to soldiers' pay, medical research, foreign
aid and domestic education programs.
If this deal passes Congress and the president signs it into
law, as expected, it would mark the first significant bipartisan
legislation passing Congress this year and since Trump took
office on Jan. 20.
Congress averted a U.S. government shutdown last Friday by
voting for a stop-gap spending bill that gave lawmakers another
week to work out federal spending over the final five months of
the fiscal year.
Even with the new progress, lawmakers are running far behind
schedule, as legislation funding government operations in
fiscal year 2017 were supposed to have been completed by last
Democrats backed Friday's stop-gap bill a day after House
Republican leaders again put off a vote on major healthcare
legislation sought by Trump and opposed by Democrats to
dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, after
Republican moderates balked at provisions added to entice
It was unclear whether Republicans might try this week to
pass a healthcare bill in the House.
Trump earlier bowed to Democratic demands that the spending
legislation for the rest of the fiscal year not include money to
start building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border he said is
needed to fight illegal immigration and stop drug smugglers.
The Trump administration also agreed to continue funding for
a major component of Obamacare despite Republican vows to end
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Will Dunham and Lindsay Dunsmuir;
Editing by Peter Cooney, Simon Cameron-Moore and Neil Fullick)