Weird Washington happenings: A spending bill for longer than a week

Sitting down? This is not The Onion.

Republicans and Democrats have reached bipartisan agreement on a spending bill that would last not for a week or month. But for five whole months. This would seem to avoid a partial government shutdown for now.

Yes, you’re right, in a properly-functioning Congress, budgets would be crafted for an entire fiscal year, allowing agencies to plan ahead. But, hey, let’s be thankful for five-month blessings. The last, last-minute spending agreement to come out of Congress was last Friday. And it lasts for seven whole days.

The new interim budget agreement, announced late Sunday night, involves about $1 trillion in spending. It’s something called “a compromise.” You’ve rarely seen such a thing on Capitol Hill in recent years. And you’ll note the “compromise” comes on spending more of your tax dollars, not less.

Under this compromise, both parties got some of the spending goodies they coveted.  Not everything, mind you. But enough to incentivize each side to vote for the budget deal. Under the arcane rules of the 100-member Senate, a minimum 60-vote majority is necessary for most measures, which is nine more than the majority most people live with. But they’re VIP’s, so we must live with it.

According to initial leaks, the agreement, which must be passed by both houses and signed by President Trump before 11:59p.m. Friday night, includes $15 billion additional spending on defense. That’s half of the $30 billion that Trump requested. So, stand by for some days of grumbling and lobbying over the compromise, which encourages early voting before Friday.

The agreement also contains $2 billion in new spending on the National Institutes of Health, which was a demand of troubled Democrats. Along with $60 million in financial assistance to local law enforcement that help cover presidential visits to his New York and Florida residences.

The proposed plan, which runs through the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year, also leaves largely untouched budgeting for the Environmental Protection Agency and federal spending for Planned Parenthood. A bipartisan agreement also funds permanent extension of health-care coverage for coal miners.

None of the president’s proposed $18 billion in non-defense spending cuts are part of the agreement, including financial penalties on sanctuary cities protecting illegal immigrants.

Additionally, the measure reportedly includes $1.5 billion in new spending for border security, which the president can claim as a victory. But it does not contain the another $1.4 billion he wanted to start the wall-building. But, remember, Mexico is going to pay for that barrier.