Money for Trump Tower security part of spending bill
Washington — Lawmakers are tacking on money for security around Trump Tower in New York and funds for health care for retired coal miners to a stopgap spending bill that would avoid a government shutdown at week’s end.
The temporary budget bill, scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday, would keep federal agencies functioning into next spring, giving the new Congress and incoming president Donald Trump time to approve more than $1 trillion to fund federal agencies through the current government budget year, which ends Sept. 30.
Current spending expires at midnight on Friday. Since the measure is the only must-do bill before Congress adjourns, it’s likely to carry several add-ons, including flood relief, money for overseas military operations and help for Flint to fix its lead-tainted water system.
Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California swung against a proposal to help speed a congressional waiver required next year to confirm retired Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, who would otherwise be ineligible to serve because of a law that requires a seven-year wait for former members of the military to serve as secretary of defense
“Brushing aside the law that enshrines civilian control of the military — without discussion, in a massive must-pass funding bill — would set a terrible precedent,” Pelosi said.
One major dispute centered on protecting health care benefits for about 16,000 retired coal miners facing the loss of coverage on Dec. 31.
The measure had divided coal-state Republicans. Several supported longer-term legislation tackling the loss of health care, but GOP leaders — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — were wary of bailing out unionized workers.
At issue are health benefits for retirees whose companies declared bankruptcy in recent years.
Also the subject of last-minute talks was an Obama administration request for $35 million to provide security for President-elect Trump, whose home in midtown Manhattan provides unusual and costly complications for the Secret Service.