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Days behind schedule, can Congress pass its huge spending bill before the next shutdown?

Congressional leaders have finalized their $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep government funded through September, and now they have two days to pass it to avoid another government shutdown. John Yang learns more from Lisa Desjardins about what’s in the massive bill and what isn’t.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    "NewsHour" has learned that congressional leaders have finalized their $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep government funded through September.

    John Yang tells us more.

  • John Yang:

    Hari, Congress has just about two days to pass that bill and prevent the year's third government showdown.

    Lisa Desjardins has been tracking the negotiations, and is here now.

    Lisa, as we sit here, we don't have a bill to look at. But that, of course, has not stopped you.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • John Yang:

    You know what's in this bill. What have you — through your reporting, what have you learned is in it?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Leaders have agreed on what's in it. They are processing the text right now, I'm told.

    Let's look at what made in this very important bill. One of the more important factors here, this is one of the largest spending increases we have seen in years, especially for the military. That will include pay raises, 2.4 percent, for most of our troops.

    But, John, this is way more than a spending bill. This is the last legislative train out of Washington this year. If it doesn't get in this bill, it might not happen. In this bill, we have learned will be gun legislation.

    First one I want to talk about, this bill will clarify a policy, making it clear that the CDC can actually research gun violence. That would be a change in policy. Also, two bills, Fix NICS, which addresses the current background check system, and also Stop School Violence, which would give money to schools to try and ascertain what the threats are ahead of time.

  • John Yang:

    And, as you say, this is the last legislative train pulling out of the station. What didn't get on?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. A lot.

    I think that's why it took so long, is they were trying to get things in and they could not reach agreement. First of all, the border wall, the is something President Trump insisted on being in this bill. There is $1.6 billion for border security.

    But, John, the fine print is that a very small portion of that, just several hundred million dollars, is for a border fence. And Democrats tell me that there is language in this bill saying it cannot be a concrete wall, border security, yes, border wall no in this bill.

    Also, nothing about DACA in this bill. Let's also talk about some health care issues. Health care subsidies that the president ended last fall that people said — many people think are needed to stabilize the system, those are not in this bill. That's a heated debate. Do they help or hurt the system?

    We're going to find out, because the government will not be paying them. They are not part of the bill.

  • John Yang:

    So, are those fixes, like the DACA fixes, that likely not going to happen this year?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I think that is the one exception here where we could see a separate bill on DACA.

    Right now, Congress is waiting on the courts to act. If the courts kind of don't have a status for those recipients, we might see action.

  • John Yang:

    And this is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • John Yang:

    These are people who were brought here illegally as children.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Illegally. That's it exactly.

    And I think what we're watching now, of course, from Congress is, first, it would be nice to see some text of this massive bill. But, John, you said yourself, the timeline is a little bit insane. Often, Congress takes two weeks at least to pass a bill like this. They haven't seen the text.

    And I think the House is hoping to pass this tomorrow, the Senate Friday. That means it's possible to avoid a shutdown, except for one senator, Rand Paul. He generally doesn't like these bills. If he objects to the omnibus, we will have a shutdown.

  • John Yang:

    The House was hoping to pass this on Monday.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    Actually, the House originally wanted to pass it last week. So they're many, many days behind. And they're really kind of up to their necks on their deadline. There are conservatives and liberals both who don't like aspects of this bill. That could also be a problem.

    But I think Rand Paul is the one to watch. Maybe they go to a short-term bill. Maybe they have a quick shutdown over the weekend. I think it will probably get through, though.

  • John Yang:

    Just like a student waiting until the very last minute.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Believe it or not.

  • John Yang:

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you very much.

    Oh, and there's more online.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Oh, yes.

  • John Yang:

    I almost forget. There's more online.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right. There's so much in this bill. We have a big story about all of it on our Web site.

  • John Yang:

    Great.

    Lisa, thank you very much.

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