House Democrats, however, did not secure funding for historically black colleges and universities, an item among their requested policy riders.
“It is profoundly disappointing and deeply shameful that the Senate GOP has yet again turned their back on America’s young people and these historic institutions,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
The House is expected to vote Tuesday on the agreement.
Neither the White House nor congressional leaders believe a shutdown will occur — especially as House Democrats move forward with an impeachment inquiry against the president. But nearly two months into the new government fiscal year, no progress has been made on any of the 12 annual spending bills. And this comes despite a highly touted budget agreement hammered out between the White House and Congress this summer.
Senior members of the House and Senate Appropriations panels had been hopeful that a deal on subcommittee allocations for the 12 individual spending bills would emerge over the weekend, which could be announced alongside the text of a stopgap spending package on Monday. But that optimism waned.
“I think the 302(b) talks have stalled a little bit,” a Democratic aide told POLITICO. “We’re still trading papers, but they’re not going to be finished today.”
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby was downbeat on Monday night, saying that spending talks have been “frustrating,” with progress coming in fits and starts and both sides still stuck on how to finance the president’s border barrier.
“The tenor has been good, the tone of negotiations have been good. The results are puny,” the Alabama Republican said.
“I think we could have reached an agreement a month ago, and we should have,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Last-minute negotiations over several issues ensnared the finishing touches on the short-term spending fix. Republicans had insisted on a “clean” short-term continuing resolution, without policy riders.
But House Democrats wanted to add roughly $7.5 billion for the Census Bureau, providing the agency with its full operating budget as it prepares for the 2020 count. Republicans wanted to leave the issue to bicameral conference negotiations on full-year spending bills, according to a House Democratic aide.
House Democrats also wanted to fund a military pay increase and provide historically black colleges and universities with mandatory funding that lapsed at the end of fiscal 2019 in September, and they wanted to address a $7.6 billion rescission in highway funds that will take effect in July 2020.
Shelby said earlier this month that negotiating special exceptions like this is “always a problem.”
“My preference is always a clean CR and clean appropriations,” he said.
When it comes to spending levels, there are disagreements over whether to use emergency cash to pay for bipartisan initiatives like the VA Mission Act — a new veterans program that Trump himself has championed — in order to free up some money for the Department of Homeland Security and Trump’s border wall.
The controversial border wall project had long been the sticking point in the 2020 spending talks as Democrats refuse to approve any money for Trump’s signature issue. Trump diverted several billion dollars in Pentagon funds last year, infuriating Democrats. The issue is now in federal court.
But during a meeting last Thursday between Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional appropriators, the two sides agreed to set aside the border wall stalemate for the moment and move forward with other spending bills. That was supposed to yield a quick agreement on spending allocations, although that hasn’t happened up until now.