WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval Friday to a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill that included as a rider the Taylor Force Act, which would cut some aid to Palestinians until they end stipends for terror convicts and families of slain attackers.
After late-night arguments and objections from fiscal conservatives to massive outlays on Democratic priorities at a time when Republicans control the House, Senate and White House, the budget finally passed late Thursday, avoiding a budget crisis.
The Taylor Force Act will halt US funding to the PA until Ramallah stops paying stipends to Palestinian terrorists and their families. It includes three exceptions, allowing for US funding to Palestinian water and childhood vaccination programs and to East Jerusalem hospitals.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted that he was proud to have co-sponsored the Taylor Force Act, named for an American killed in a 2016 terror attack in Tel Aviv.
Second, the bill includes the Taylor Force Act, legislation I proudly cosponsored, which will stop U.S. taxpayer dollars from going to the Palestinian Authority if it continues its policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their families.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 22, 2018
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon welcomed the legislation.
“The passage of the Taylor Force Act is an important step towards finally ending the despicable practice of pay to slay & ensuring accountability in the Palestinian Authority,” he tweeted.
The passage of the Taylor Force Act is an important step towards finally ending the despicable practice of pay to slay & ensuring accountability in the Palestinian Authority. All countries must demand that the PA invest in a future for Palestinians, not pay terrorists' salaries.
— Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון (@dannydanon) March 22, 2018
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Shurat Hadin group who represents Force’s family and has advocated for the bill, welcomed the move, saying it sent a strong message to the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. She said it would lead to the end of the Palestinian practice of “rewarding murder and terrorism.”
After the House okayed the omnibus budget bill, it went to the Senate, which passed it shortly after midnight between Thursday and Friday, narrowly averting a third federal shutdown this year which both parties wanted to avoid.
The House easily approved the measure Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country.
Once the opponents relented, the Senate began voting, clearing the package by a 65-32 vote a day before Friday’s midnight deadline to fund the government.
“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties,” tweeted Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from R-Ky., who spent the afternoon tweeting details found in the 2,200-page bill that was released the night before. “No one has read it. Congress is broken.”
Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties. $1.3 trillion. Busts budget caps. 2200 pages, with just hours to try to read it.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 22, 2018
Paul said later he knew he could only delay, but not stop, the outcome and had made his point.
Leaders delivered on US President Donald Trump’s top priorities of boosting Pentagon coffers and starting work on his promised border wall, while compromising with Democrats on funds for road building, child care development, fighting the opioid crisis and more.
But the result has been unimaginable to many Republicans after campaigning on spending restraints and balanced budgets. Along with the recent GOP tax cuts law, the bill that stood a foot tall at some lawmakers’ desks ushers in the return of $1 trillion deficits.
Trump only reluctantly backed the bill he would have to sign, according to Republican lawmakers and aides, who acknowledged the deal involved necessary trade-offs for the Democratic votes that were needed for passage despite their majority lock on Congress.
Trying to smooth over differences, Republican leaders focused on military increases that were once core to the party’s brand as guardians of national security.
“Vote yes for our military. Vote yes for the safety and the security of this country,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, ahead of voting.