Senate Leaders Reach Budget Deal After Months of Government Shutdown Threats
- Author: Leroy Wright Feb 08, 2018,
Feb 08, 2018, 22:32
The spending bill would modify the discretionary spending caps enforced by the Budget Control Act for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Republicans have pushed for defense increases in the neighborhood of $80 billion a year and have offered Democrats almost as much - $60 billion or so per year - for nondefense programs.
Democrats object to increased military spending without an equal increase in domestic spending.
US government funding has been extended four times since late past year and is set to expire once again Thursday.
However, McConnell said he anticipates Congress will pass one last another short-term bill by Thursday that will be needed to provide enough time to write and prepare the legislation to accommodate the new agreement.
One especially tricky question is whether House Democrats would approve of a spending agreement if there isn't much progress in addressing the issue of immigrants left vulnerable with the looming expiration of former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Senate must first vote on the plan by Thursday afternoon or evening; the House would then vote on it before a midnight deadline for a government shutdown. CNBC said the House Freedom Caucus does not support the spending increases.
The agreement was announced by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and backed by House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, but House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out against it in a marathon speech on the House floor. The bill would also provide long overdue disaster funding for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico months after hurricanes devastated homes, infrastructure and coastlines there.
"I think we're on the way to getting an agreement and on the way to getting an agreement very soon", McConnell said during a weekly press briefing.
The budget deal includes $6 billion to address the opioid epidemic and support mental health services.
Experts say that there is little hope for the latest House defense spending bill in the Senate.
Democrats signaled their intent to block the House bill in the Senate, where the minority party can insist on a three-fifths majority for most legislation to advance.
The deal would cause budget deficits to grow even larger, on top of the effects of the sweeping tax overhaul that lawmakers approved in December.
Schumer said in a conference call with NY reporters that he was able to negotiate the deal with McConnell because they wanted to work together in a bipartisan manner.
"If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown, we'll do a shutdown, and it's worth it for our country", Trump said during a White House meeting on the worldwide MS-13 street gang.
Without Democratic support in the upper chamber, the Senate appears likely to strip out the defense money, initiating a game of legislative ping pong that could drag on up to the deadline.
The call echoes a request from Pelosi on the House floor on Wednesday that Ryan make the same type of commitment his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell did to hold a neutral immigration debate.