Congressional Leaders Reach Spending Deal To Avoid Shutdown

As reported by the New York Times, congressional leaders reached a deal yesterday on a more than $1 trillion spending package that would fund most of the federal government through the current fiscal year.  Absent such a compromise, the federal government had been facing a substantial shutdown by the end of this week.

As described in the Times,

The final deal amounted to what one Democratic aide called a “split decision” likely to leave both sides unhappy. For instance, the bill would nullify the District of Columbia’s referendum to legalize marijuana, but it would allow Washington to decriminalize the drug, meaning possession of small amounts would no longer be punished. Environmental regulations on some waterways were nullified for the Army Corps of Engineers, but the Environmental Protection Agency would not be limited in its ability to regulate new bodies of water under the Clean Water Act.

Democrats fought off Republican efforts to scuttle Michelle Obama’s rules on nutritional content of school lunches, but Republicans secured flexibility on the use of whole grains.

Another provision would allow more leeway for banks and other financial services companies under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulatory law of 2010. . . Republicans hope to attach a provision that would make farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses that use financial instruments to hedge risk exempt from regulations under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulatory law.

According to US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, the omnibus package also includes many provisions to rein in regulatory overreach that causes job loss and harm to our economy, including but not limited to:

  • A provision to prohibit the Export-Import Bank and OPIC from blocking coal and other power-generation projects – helping to increase exports of U.S. goods and services;
  • A provision prohibiting funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to change the definition of “fill material,” which could have harmful effects on many U.S. industries;
  • A restriction on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations harmful to the livestock and poultry industry;
  • Language amending Dodd-Frank swaps pushout requirements to protect farmers and other commodity producers from having to put down excessive collateral to get a loan, expand their businesses, and hedge their production;
  • Provisions restricting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches; and
  • A provision prohibiting funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to place sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List – an action that could have severe economic consequences in Western states.

For more information, see the full story from the New York Times and this summary from US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers.

For more information on Clean Water Act application, see our previous posts, NACo Calls For “Waters of the US” Rule WithdrawalMACo & Maryland Counties Submit Comments On EPA “Waters of the US” Rule.