House and Senate negotiators agree on spending bill
WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators reached accord on a trillion-dollar spending plan that will finance the government through September, reversing some cuts to military veterans’ pensions that were included in a broader budget agreement last month and defeating efforts to rein in President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The hefty bill, filed in the House on Monday night, neutralized almost all of the 134 policy provisions that House Republicans had hoped to include, with negotiators opting for cooperation over confrontation after the 16-day government shutdown in October.
Measures to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases and reverse clean water regulations did not survive the final negotiations.
Republicans also relented on their efforts to strip financing to carry out the Affordable Care Act.
“Obamacare lives another day,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The compromises may be difficult to accept for conservative Republicans, many of whom campaigned in 2010 vowing never to vote on a phone-book-size bill they have not had time to read.
And because many of them will balk, the bill will have to have bipartisan support to pass.
Republican and Democratic leaders said they believed they would easily get majorities in the House and Senate, but not without loud protests from both the right and the left.
Republicans do get to point to some conservative victories. The bill would cut $1 billion from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which Republicans have long targeted, fearing the administration would use it to bolster the law’s online insurance exchanges.
The legislation also would impose new requirements for the Internal Revenue Service in reporting its activities to the public and Congress after the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups’ applications for nonprofit status. The $11.3 billion appropriated for the IRS is down $503 million from the level enacted in 2013.
The military budget would total $572.66 billion, $20 billion less than House Republicans wanted. The bill also explicitly prohibits the Postal Service from cutting Saturday mail delivery or closing rural post offices.
But the final bill restores part of that accord’s most controversial spending cut — a 1-percentage-point reduction in cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of working-age military veterans. Under the bill, that cut will not apply to disabled veterans. Lawmakers in both parties have pledged to eliminate the reduction.
—Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times