Congress close to reaching $1.3 trillion spending deal
- Congressional lawmakers are closer to an agreement on a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill in advance of a Friday government shutdown deadline, according to Politico.
- For the most part, leaders from both parties and the White House are foregoing attempts at attaching pet policy-issue riders to the bill and are setting aside partisan sticking points. However, Republican lawmakers have been slow to ratchet down their demands for a $25 billion border wall funding provision in exchange for a 2.5-year hold on Dreamer deportations, according to the Associated Press. Some Democrats are also pushing back on the removal of a $900-million Hudson River tunnel funding provision, even though President Donald Trump said he would veto any bill that included it.
- The president should get the $1.6 billion he requested for border wall construction in his 2018 budget request, however, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is reportedly close to reaching a deal on tax credits for construction of low-income housing in exchange for agreeing to a language-related fix regarding grain-subsidies. Time is running out for both House and Senate votes on the spending measure, though. If Congress can't come to an agreement before the end of the week, the third government shutdown this year will go into effect.
The potential deportation of the Dreamers – those from other countries brought to the U.S. illegally as children – has raised concerns in the construction industry, which has been saddled with an increasingly critical labor shortage. If those individuals are sent packing, it could put a 70,000-worker dent in the construction workforce. In addition, the revocation of temporary protected status (TPS) for some groups of immigrants could leave the industry short another 40,000 to 70,000 workers. This protection removal targets those who fled to the U.S. from countries like El Salvador and Guatemala after natural disasters or other crises created unsafe situations for them at home.
Meanwhile, funding for the construction of a new $13 billion New York-New Jersey Hudson River tunnel, which was damaged during Superstorm Sandy, has emerged as a contentious issue as well. Before the president took office, the tunnel and associated $24 billion to $30 billion Gateway program of Northeast Corridor rail infrastructure investments were at the top of his list of priority projects necessary to promote national security. In the past months, however, whether because of a personal squabble with congressional Democrats or a change of heart, the Trump administration classified the project as a regional concern and dismissed claims from New York and New Jersey officials that President Obama's transportation department agreed to pay for half.
- Politico Congress closes in on massive spending bill
- U.S. News & World Report Border Wall, Tunnel Tussle Hold up Sweeping Spending Bill
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