Congress has until Thursday night to pass a new budget plan, or face another government shutdown.
On Wednesday, the US Senate struck a bipartisan deal, agreeing to a two-year budget plan which would increase defence and domestic spending, including more funding for disaster relief and community health.
“No one would suggest it’s ideal but we worked hard to find common ground”, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), introducing the deal on the floor.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opposes the legislation because it does not provide protections for the more than 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The deal, if approved, would also fund the federal government until March 23, averting a second shutdown this year and giving lawmakers six weeks to resolve their differences over immigration policy and write the full-year budget.
If that fails, the USA government would suffer its second shutdown this year, after a partisan standoff over US immigration policy led to a three-day partial shutdown last month. Pelosi says, “Without that commitment from Speaker Ryan, comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support, nor does it have the support of a large member of our Congress”.
Many Republicans, whose party controls both chambers of Congress, said the military’s need for funding justified the extra spending. The deal would also end – at least for a while – the prolonged congressional cycle of fiscal standoffs and short-term spending patches. But it may require Ryan to give the same guarantee that Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave to the Senate Democrats: an open debate on legislation dealing with the Dreamers.
The higher spending from the deal would add to an expanding federal budget deficit that Steve Bell, a former Senate Budget Committee staff director, forecast would reach as much as $1 trillion next year. To become law, it would have to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by President Donald Trump.
“The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want, it doesn’t have everything Republicans want, but it has a great deal of what the American people want”.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders praised the Senate bill, saying “we’re certainly happy with the way it’s moving”. “We are certainly happy with the direction that it’s moving, particularly that we’re moving away from the crisis budgeting that we have been on in the past”, she said. Some conservatives railed against the spending increases.
But the agreement gives wins to GOP defense hawks as well as Democrats seeking billions for infrastructure projects and to combat the opioid epidemic.
“I don’t think the government will shut down”.
“Maybe I should bring my rosary, blessed by the Pope”, said Pelosi, who is Catholic.
The bipartisan compromise would provide the Pentagon and domestic programs with an extra $300 billion over the next two years.
The deal, backed by President Donald Trump, raises spending on military and domestic programs by nearly $300 billion over the next two years.