Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Senate to vote on 2-year, $400B budget deal ahead of deadline

Melinda Barton | 09 February, 2018, 03:32

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said there was "real progress" on a budget deal, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said "we're on our way to getting an agreement, and getting it very soon".

While Congress would still have to pass another spending measure before that deadline, the agreement announced Wednesday includes a longer-term pact to lift spending caps by roughly $400 billion for Pentagon and domestic programs over two years. "This deal includes necessary reforms that will help small dairy farmers across our district and it includes additional funding to combat the opioid crisis and support mental health programs".

The White House backs the Senate deal. "We worked hard to find common ground and remained focused on serving the American people".

While Democrats are concerned that the package does not offer anything for the so-called Dreamers, some fiscal conservatives on the Republican side are alarmed that the increase in spending will not be offset by budget cuts.

The measure, aides said, also contains nearly $90 billion in overdue disaster aid and an increase in the government borrowing cap that would prevent a first-ever US government default on its obligations. Congress aims to avoid letting funding lapse for the second time in less than a month.

"We've reached a deal neither side loves, but both sides can be proud of", Schumer said.

Democrats previously wanted to pass a bill protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation in tandem with legislation to raise budget caps.

McConnell has promised the Senate will debate competing immigration proposals next week if Congress can avert a shutdown, but neither he nor Schumer would embrace a specific policy proposal on Tuesday.

The budget agreement "does not have my support, nor does it have the support of a large number of members of our caucus", Pelosi said, as reported by AP.

Republicans want at least some border security measures passed along with protections for the immigrants.

In this January 30, 2018 photo, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly applauds President Donald Trump at his first State of the Union address, at the Capitol in Washington.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said it was pleasing that Congress has been able to meet the Trump administration's defence spending requirement and come together on a two-year spending bill.

The bill needs the support of House Democrats because fiscally conservative Republicans are expected to oppose it over the increase in domestic spending.

A group of lawmakers of both parties is putting increasing pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan to make a commitment to bring immigration legislation to the floor and allow an open debate like the Senate. The deal arrives after President Trump encouraged another shutdown if his hardline immigration demands were not met, but it appears that McConnell and Schumer are trying to keep the government chugging along, at least for the time being.