Senate leaders agree to major bipartisan budget deal

08 February, 2018, 00:09 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks to reporters ahead of an expected vote in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on a short-term budget measure that would avert a rerun of last month's three-day partial government shutdown on Capitol

But Speaker Paul Ryan is backing the Senate deal, declaring in a statement, "The winners today are the men and women who serve in our Armed forces".

The package would extend a reauthorization of a popular children's health insurance program for ten years, four years longer than the reauthorization included in the prior CR.

The goal would be to approve the outline of the agreement this week, and give the House and Senate Appropriations Committees until mid-March to work out all the details for 2018.

The White House said the deal includes an extension, until March 2019, of the government's debt ceiling. John Cornyn, the second-ranked Republican in the Senate, told reporters of the possible inclusion of a debt-limit increase in the short-term funding bill.

Republican Representative Bill Huizenga of MI said adding defence funding to the spending bill is the only way to get support from 218 Republicans to pass the House without Democratic support. If Republicans agree, it could ease the way for a broad, bipartisan Senate vote on the spending plan.

The mostly party-line vote sends the bill to the Senate, which appears likely to change it and send it back.

"I am very pleased to announce that we have reached a two-year budget deal to lift the spending caps for defence and urgent domestic priorities far above current spending levels", Schumer said. "If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety - let's shut it down".

All told, the Republican-controlled Congress is on track to approve about $400 billion in new spending over next two years, just months after enacting a almost $1.5 trillion tax cut.

Lawmakers weren't eager for another shutdown.

Government funding runs out at midnight on Thursday, and Congress is scrambling to avoid another shutdown just weeks after a January spending lapse caused in part by a still-unresolved immigration debate.

The bill removes automatic spending cuts - known as sequestration caps - for both defense and nondefense programs.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested on Monday an increase in defense spending through September 30 while lawmakers continue negotiations on spending for non-defense programs.

Democrats' effort to add deportation protections for about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants to the last spending bill led to a three-day government shutdown.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer focused on the new agreement as a rare moment of bipartisanship and cooperation. Before it was announced, Republican members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus loudly panned the increased spending as fiscally irresponsible and warned it would add to burgeoning deficits.

President Trump said he'd "love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of", referring to his demands that any bill include up to $30 billion for a border wall and beefed up security as well as an end to the visa lottery program and chain migration.

As a result of the time crunch, Democrats canceled a retreat to Maryland's Eastern Shore that they had planned for Wednesday to Friday and said they would talk strategy in the U.S. Capitol instead.


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