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Congressional Leaders Reach Spending Deal, But Passage Is Still In Doubt

08 February 2018, 09:26 | Darnell Patrick

Congressional Leaders Reach Spending Deal, But Passage Is Still In Doubt

Congressional Leaders Reach Spending Deal, But Passage Is Still In Doubt

The 245-182 vote continues a pattern of using stopgap spending to fund the government since the fiscal year began October 1, with lawmakers unable to agree to a full-year budget.

The deal placates Republican defense hawks by boosting spending for the military, lifting the spending cap put in place by the 2013 sequester agreement by $80 billion this year and $85 billion next year.

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Chuck Schumer of NY, his Democratic counterpart, would raise strict caps on military and domestic spending that were imposed in 2011 as part of a deal with President Barack Obama that was once seen as a key triumph for Republicans in Congress.

Congress is on the verge of a long-term budget pact that would provide whopping spending increases to the Pentagon and domestic federal programs, overdue disaster relief money and, perhaps, legislation to increase the government's borrowing limit.

Aside from the budget deal, lawmakers were also trying to reach agreement by Thursday to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government until 23 March. Pelosi spent more than seven hours speaking on the House floor Wednesday in protest of the Trump administration's stance on DACA, thus sidelining the potential budget deal.

Senate leaders said they don't want to bring the government to the brink of a shutdown and see little risk that it would occur.

Earlier in the day, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told her House colleagues that she likes the spending piece of the proposal because it includes several priorities for his caucus, especially the funding for childcare, community health centers and job training programs. But at issue is a two-year deal to increase caps on spending set by a failed 2011 budget deal.

U.S. Senate leaders from both parties on Wednesday reached a deal to raise government spending and take other steps meant to curb Capitol Hill budget squabbling. Once the bill passed the House, it went to the Senate, which unveiled a bipartisan deal to lift the funding caps on both domestic and defense spending, without addressing the Dreamers. Meanwhile, non-defense spending would grow by $63 billion this year, and $68 billion in the following one.

Democrats want to ensure equal increases for domestic and military programs.

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Votes from Democrats - possibly as many as 100 - would be needed to get the budget agreement passed in the House, because many Republicans are balking at the cost.

For some Democrats and a more Republicans than the White House may realize, the spending outline has one added bonus: it effectively circumvents Trump's budget requests that gut programs like environmental protection, diplomacy, small business assistance, public art and education.

"I'm going to structure in such a way that's fair to everyone", he told reporters Tuesday, adding, "Whoever gets to 60 wins", in reference to the threshold necessary to advance a measure in the Senate.

Most of the caucus' closed-door meetings focus on current issues - the ongoing Russian Federation investigations; the Justice Department's attempts to curb state marijuana legalization laws; how Democrats can push back against the GOP-sponsored tax reform plan; and how to use social media to promote legislation and political priorities, according to an internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post.

Pelosi said the House should debate immigration legislation and noted that Senate Republicans have slated a debate on the politically freighted subject starting next week. Pelosi is holding out for a promise from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, on immigration.

That was a turnaround from Tuesday, when Trump had said he would "love" a shutdown if he did not get his way on immigration.

This sweeping agreement does not, however, address immigration, sidestepping the issue that led to a government shutdown last month. He schedule the debate as the price of quickly ending the Democrats' January filibuster of the government's temporary federal temporary budget.

In addition, Democrats won an additional $57 billion over two years in new funding for domestic programs - $26 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year, which began October 1, and $31 billion for fiscal year 2019.



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