Winners and losers of Trump’s first budget battle – Politico


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Even as President Donald Trump came up short in the budget talks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan were quietly grinning. | AP Photo

The first budget battle of the Donald Trump era is in the books. And the final spending bill looks a lot like the kind of plan that could have passed under the old regime.

Democrats didn’t get everything they wanted, especially on efforts to stabilize Obamacare. But they used their leverage to fight off the president’s most hard-edged requests, including his wall on the southern border and dramatic domestic spending cuts.

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And even as Trump came up short, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were quietly grinning. The Republican leaders avoided a damaging government shutdown and notched a few under-the-radar victories along the way.

Here are the winners and losers on a $1 trillion omnibus, which is set to be passed this week and fund the government through September:

Winners

Defense hawks: The bill will provide $15 billion in extra funds for the Pentagon to fight terrorism. But more noteworthy than the money is that for the first time since the 2011 Budget Control Act, Democrats didn’t insist on equal increases for defense and domestic funding. “That harmful precedent ends this week — a significant departure from the Obama years, and a big win for the new administration,” Ryan’s office said.

Although Congress’ staunchest defense hawks, like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), didn’t end up scoring all the Pentagon money they’d hoped for, the retreat by Democrats could mean an even bigger defense budget boost later this year.

Joe Manchin: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), along with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and other coal-country advocates, pushed Congress to the brink of a shutdown last December by demanding a permanent extension of health insurance for retired miners. They came up short at the time, but they’re about to get their way this week. The red state Democrats worked closely with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), secured a provision to permanently extend health benefits for coal miners who worked for bankrupt companies, over the objections of conservative Republicans in the House who had pushed for another temporary patch.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell: Republican leaders, eager to prove they could govern, wanted to avoid any hint of a shutdown showdown — and they largely succeeded. It was a delicate dance that required Ryan and McConnell to talk Trump down from a border wall funding fight while also dealing with restless Democrats, whose votes would be needed. They also could point to a few real GOP policy wins, such as additional money for the Pentagon and for border security, to keep their fractious conferences largely on board.

Joe Biden: The former vice president made a heartfelt — and bipartisan — push to boost spending for cancer research in memory of his late son, Beau, over the last year. With the help of GOP heavyweights in Congress, Biden’s cancer “moonshot” bid became part of a much broader spending blitz for medical research. The newly unveiled deal contains $2 billion for NIH, a figure sought by GOP appropriators like Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and twice the amount requested by Barack Obama.

New York, New Jersey and Florida: A pot of $61 million is up for grabs under the bill to reimburse local law enforcement agencies that keep the peace while Trump and his family are traveling. The legislation would provide $20 million to reimburse law enforcement agencies that helped protect the president during his transition. And it would provide $41 million for protection efforts “directly and demonstrably associated with any residence of the president.”

For Florida, that could mean potential payback for the first family’s frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago — visits that cost the local government up to $1.5 million a pop, according to the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office. For New York and New Jersey, that could mean cash for keeping things under control at the family’s Manhattan residence and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, which is likely to be the president’s favored destination for summer escapes.

Losers

Trump: The then-president-elect asked GOP lawmakers to punt on funding the government last December so he could put his imprint on the federal budget. But when he finally barged into the debate, Congress largely ignored his requests — rebuffing his proposed $18 billion in cuts to domestic programs and giving him only half of the extra $30 billion in defense spending he sought. And while Trump got nearly $2 billion in new border security funds, not a penny of it will go to perhaps his biggest priority, construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mick Mulvaney: As a former congressman who routinely voted against omnibus bills, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney had a lot to prove as Trump’s point person on spending. He further put himself out there by pushing a hard line on the president’s border wall and proposing new funding restrictions on “sanctuary cities.” His last-minute demands disrupted bipartisan negotiations for several days, and helped force lawmakers into a short-term funding extension last week. And in the end, Mulvaney didn’t win backing for either proposal.

Obamacare: In one of their final demands in the spending talks, Democrats dug in on an Obamacare subsidy Trump had publicly threatened to cut off. They said they wouldn’t vote for any bill that didn’t provide long-term stability for the health law, a vow they dropped after the White House vaguely promised to keep money flowing for the program outside of the spending talks. But Democrats are still worried about its fate. The omnibus bill also includes a provision already in law that blocks money for an Obamacare risk corridor program, which was intended to help cushion health insurers’ losses.

Jeff Sessions: The funding bill would block the attorney general from meddling with state-level medical marijuana laws. While that language has been inserted in every spending bill since 2014, it’s notable that it survived in the face of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The country’s chief law enforcement officer has been clear about his opposition to legalizing marijuana since he was a senator, spurring speculation that he could lead a crackdown now that he’s attorney general.

Anti-abortion groups: Since Trump’s election, anti-abortion groups like Susan B. Anthony’s List have been in a tight spot on funding negotiations. Personally assured that Planned Parenthood would be defunded through an Obamacare repeal bill, anti-abortion leaders mostly agreed to back down in the spending bill fight. But as prospects for the health care bill have ebbed, the anti-abortion movement has faced new pressure. Marjorie Dannenfelser, who chairs Trump’s pro-life coalition, called it “incredibly disappointing” that a “Republican spending bill” would agree to keep money for Planned Parenthood.

Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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