By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan budget deal Feb. 9 that ended the federal government’s second shut down this year and increased defense and discretionary spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years, including $20 billion in additional funding for infrastructure.
The legislation gives congressional appropriators until March 23 to write a detailed bill to distribute the funding to government agencies for the remainder of FY 2018.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) used a procedural tactic to delay the Senate vote until past the midnight deadline of an earlier temporary spending deal, which triggered an hours-long shutdown. He opposed the new bill’s estimated $320 billion addition to the federal budget deficit.
Once the Senate could vote, the legislation passed 71-28, with wide bipartisan support. About 5:30 a.m., the House approved the measure 240-186, with 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats in favor, and 67 Republicans and 119 Democrats against.
The two-year deal gives Congress and President Trump more time to focus on infrastructure and other issues between now and the November midterm election. It also lifts the federal debt limit until March 2019, and provides some certainty about spending levels through September 2019.
ARTBA staff will continue to push for an infrastructure package, including a long-term user fee solution to the Highway Trust Fund, in 2018.