Senate Republicans are expressing optimism that President Donald Trump will sign a fiscal 2019 spending agreement that would avert another partial government shutdown and fund USDA, the Interior Department and agencies such as EPA and FDA through Sept. 30.
The text of the spending agreement was not expected to be released before Wednesday, but it won’t include disaster aid for Southeastern producers hit by hurricanes last year or reinstatement of expired biofuel tax incentives, including the $1-a-gallon tax credit for biodiesel.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said negotiators sought to keep the spending deal clean by limiting it to the seven fiscal 2019 appropriations bills that still have to be enacted. Among those are the Agriculture bill, which funds USDA and FDA, and the Interior-Environment measure, which funds Interior and EPA.
Trump said he wasn’t happy with the final agreement, which provides just $1.375 billion for border fencing, far short of the $5.7 billion he was demanding. But he stopped short of saying he would veto it.
“I'm extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us. It's sad. They're doing the country no favors. They're hurting our country very badly. But we certainly don't want to see a shutdown,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants Trump to sign the bill. “It’s not everything the president hoped to get, but I think it’s a good step in the right direction. I hope he’ll decide to sign it,” he said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., expressed satisfaction with the agreement after he understood the president would likely have the flexibility to exceed a cap on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds.
Democratic congressional aides said the agreement would reduce ICE detention beds from 49,057 to 40,520 at the end of the fiscal year. But Graham said he believes there is effectively no limit on ICE beds because of the Homeland Security Department’s ability to shift funding around.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., told Agri-Pulse he hoped to see the disaster aid considered separately soon after the spending deal is enacted. He said it was left out of the agreement because of an unrelated dispute over Puerto Rico funding.
The House earlier passed legislation that would authorize $3 billion in agricultural disaster aid in Georgia and other states hit by last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.
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