Forty-eight hours before the government would have shut down, Congress produced the conference report containing the seven remaining funding bills for the FY2019 budget. And less than 20 hours after producing the 1,159-page monstrosity, both the House and the Senate are expected to pass the bill. Perhaps members will take a nap with it under their pillow to absorb it by osmosis.
Actually, it’s worse than that, says Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). All he got was an hour to review one copy of the bill, and he says that makes him a no (via Twitchy):
Here's my first look at the final conference report and supporting language. A total of 7 funding bills. With 30 minutes notice, I was allowed 1 hour to review and had to make a choice.
I could not sign off. pic.twitter.com/kwwmZwLFv8
— Tom Graves (@RepTomGraves) February 14, 2019
Graves will likely remain in the minority, as the Washington Post reports. No one’s happy about the result, but their unhappiness is roughly equal, which is the closest Congress gets to bipartisanship these days:
The mood in the Capitol was less of enthusiasm than relief as negotiators finalized legislation that would end, for now, political brinkmanship over Trump’s demands for money for a southern border wall. Those demands produced the nation’s longest partial government shutdown before it ended late last month after 35 days.
The days of negotiations that followed produced a deal offering Trump less than a quarter of the $5.7 billion he wanted for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Nevertheless, Trump is expected to sign the bill — although the president has changed his mind at the last minute before, creating a level of uncertainty.
Lawmakers finalized the 1,159-page bill just before midnight Wednesday, and votes were expected in the House and the Senate on Thursday. The legislation is expected to pass. Trump said that he has to see the final deal before deciding whether he can support it, but he reiterated his insistence that regardless of what Congress does, the border wall will get built.
Even the “will he or won’t he?” game is being played half-heartedly. Trump could change his mind about signing off on the omnibus, but … he probably won’t. What would he gain at this point? Once again, Democrats and Republicans agreed on a bill, which means his refusal would put another shutdown on his shoulders. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy wouldn’t have allowed this agreement to take place without Trump’s grudging buy-in this time around, so refusing to sign off on the bill might alienate Trump from the Capitol Hill Republicans he needs to get anything done in the next two years.
Besides, Trump did get some money explicitly assigned to border barriers, an improvement over the previous version that only had money set aside for “border security.” It might not be much, but it’s better than nothing:
-$900+ million for enhanced inspections at ports of entry, new technology, opioid detection and customs officers
-Funding for a new Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter
-1.9% pay raise for federal civilian workers (overriding Trump’s order to deny them a pay raise) https://t.co/FXfn9ZDJZ9
— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) February 14, 2019
Let’s just say it’s enough for Trump to save some face.
The Senate will take up the bill first, perhaps to give cover to other House members still on the fence, pun intended. If the Senate passes the bill with a veto-proof majority, it seems likelier that waverers will surrender to the inevitable and get in line. That could also signal to Trump that this battle is well and truly over and that it’s best to keep claiming victory rather than end up getting overridden by a bipartisan Congress. Expect this to end not with a bang, but hardly even a whimper.