WASHINGTON, March 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress is aiming to pass a $1.3 trillion spending bill and send it to President Donald Trump before a midnight Friday deadline to fund the U.S. government until Oct. 1 and avoid a shutdown.
The House of Representatives on Thursday approved the massive deal by a 256-167 vote, sending it to the Senate for its approval.
Here are some of the provisions in the 2,232-page bill, which if enacted is expected to lead to budget deficits of more than $800 billion for this year when coupled with recently enacted tax cuts:
The bill would finance the largest build up of defense spending in 15 years by increasing the military’s budget by $80 billion over last year’s budget. It includes a 2.4 percent pay raise for U.S. troops and buys new equipment.
It allots $1.6 billion for “physical barriers and associated technology along the Southwest border” that the United States shares with Mexico. Trump had at one point asked for $25 billion, the estimated cost of building the entire wall.
In response to public anger and frustration over mass shootings, including a Feb. 14 massacre at a Florida high school, the bill contains modest improvements to background checks for gun sales and grants to help schools prevent gun violence. It also clarifies that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is permitted to study the causes of gun violence.
It fixes one of the most glaring errors in the Republican tax law passed in December by revising a provision that has become known as the “grain glitch.” Big grain buyers complained the glitch gave lucrative tax breaks to grain producers for selling to farming cooperatives, and a lesser break for selling to agriculture companies.
The bill would provide a $307 million increase above the administration’s request for counter-intelligence efforts to fight Russian cyber attacks in 2018, when U.S. congressional elections will be held, and $380 million for grants to states to secure their election systems
The bill allots additional funds to the National Institutes of Health, including a $414 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research, $40 million more for research on developing a universal flu vaccine and $17 million more for antibiotic-resistance bacteria research. Separately, it earmarks an additional $2.8 billion to fund treatment and prevention of opioid addiction and research into the subject.
The spending package earmarks $10 billion for highways, airports, railroads and broadband. (Reporting by Amanda Becker and Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)