US lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Dec. 28, 2018 shows the Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States. The U.S. Senate convened briefly Thursday afternoon before adjourning until next week, with no signs of a deal to end the bud
WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Dec. 28, 2018 shows the Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States. The U.S. Senate convened briefly Thursday afternoon before adjourning until next week, with no signs of a deal to end the budget impasse that has shut down a quarter of the federal government. The upper chamber will convene on Monday, Dec. 31, for a pro forma session only, and then return to the Capitol Hill to renew budget deliberations on Wednesday, Jan. 2, a day before Democrats are set to take control of the House. (Xinhua/Liu Jie/IANS)

Washington, Feb 14. US lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan spending and security bill to prevent a second government shutdown days before the Friday midnight deadline

Representative Nita Lowey (Democrat, New York), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, filed the 1,159-page bill on late Wednesday night that will keep money in federal coffers until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, the Washington Post reported.

The bill
included $1.375 billion for physical barriers along the US-Mexico border, about
one-fifth of the amount President Donald Trump asked for. Democrats repeatedly
said they won’t allocate him that money.

The first
shutdown, that began on December 22 and ended on January 25, was the longest
administrative closure in US history.

“We
cannot repeat the disastrous government shutdown, so it is incumbent on
Congress to come together to responsibly fund our government. This legislation
represents a bipartisan compromise and will keep our government open while
funding key priorities,” Lowey said.

The bill, if
approved by the Senate, which was expected to vote on it on early Thursday, and
then if agreed to by the House and, finally, if signed by Trump, would prevent
a second shutdown from occurring.

Trump has
not said explicitly that he will sign the bill, though Republican lawmakers
said they were optimistic he’ll back it. “My impression is he’s likely to
sign it,” said Senator John Cornyn.

Senator
Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he spoke to
Trump recently, characterising the President as being in “good
spirits”.

The funding
agreement came even as lawmakers and staffers were still haggling about a
handful of outstanding issues, including the type of physical barriers that
could be used along the border and some of the locations.

A
Congressional Democratic aide said the funding bill would only allow the
administration to use “existing technologies” for fencing and
barriers.

The $1.375
billion has been allocated for the construction of approximately 55 miles of a
physical barrier along the southern border in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas,
according to a summary of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Homeland
Security will

receive $49.4 billion in discretionary funding, $2 billion more than Trump
asked for and, along with the 55-mile barrier, included $100 million for
“new border security technology”, $113 million for “additional
air and marine assets” and $77 million for “opioid equipment and
staffing for use at international mail and express consignment
facilities”, the summary said.

There will
be no funding for new border patrol agents, however.

Representative
Lowey also said that under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security was
also directed to ensure that migrant families were “reunited and
transferred together” before they were removed from US Customs and Border
Patrol or transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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