Senate passes omnibus with strong bipartisan backing

Source: George Cahlink, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, May 5, 2017

The Senate yesterday sent a huge fiscal 2017 omnibus spending bill to the president, who is expected to sign it into law and avert a government shutdown at midnight tomorrow night when current funding expires.

The Senate cleared the bill with bipartisan support, 79-18, with no Democrats opposing the legislation. It came on the heels of similar bipartisan backing in the House yesterday. The White House has signaled President Trump will sign the bill, despite some criticism of it earlier this week.

Among the bill’s conservative opponents today were Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Steve Daines of Montana, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.

They have been frustrated with the size of the $1.017 trillion, 1,665-page package that includes the 11 remaining spending bills for the current fiscal year. It provides funding for U.S. EPA and the Energy, Interior and Commerce departments.

In the package, lawmakers ignored calls by the White House for steep cuts to EPA, renewable energy programs and climate change research.

EPA saw its funding cut by only about 1 percent to around $8 billion, while renewable and climate programs received small increases or flat funding.

The bill does not contain any direct spending for building a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border but does provided dollars for enhanced security technologies and upgrades to existing infrastructure.

Democrats worked to strip the package of most riders, although included were provisions to allow forest biomass to be considered carbon-neutral and to give states some flexibility on certain ozone standards.