Senate leaders reach deal to raise spending over two years

Adjust Comment Print

I believe passing this bill - to include domestic spending on issues Democrats care about - and taking a government shutdown off the table will put the focus back squarely on the Dreamers.

With the latest short-term spending Bill due to expire at midnight on Thursday, the senate heralded a "breakthrough" two-year agreement as both parties agreed a funding package that will increase defence spending and other domestic priorities including funding for disaster relief and education centres.

"Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill - one that the President supports", AshLee Strong said in a statement. Trump threatened on Tuesday to upend budget talks by saying he would welcome a government shutdown if Congress were not able to agree to changes in immigration law that he said would prevent criminals from entering the country.

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.

House and Senate leaders have been discussing a two-year budget deal that would cost more than US$250 billion for this fiscal year and the next one that begins Oct 1.

Publishing group Tronc said it reached a deal to sell the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong's Nant Capital for US$500 million (S$660 million) plus the assumption of US$90 million in pension liabilities.

It would increase defense spending by $80 billion over current law in this fiscal year and $85 billion in the one that begins October 1, according to a congressional official familiar with the plan. Among other things, the bill would also provide two years of funding for the federal community health-center program.

Pelosi announced she and a "large number" of House Democrats will oppose any deal unless Speaker Paul Ryan commits to a future open immigration debate, complaining House Democrats are second-class members of Congress without a commitment from Ryan.

Later Wednesday, the Senate still plans to vote on the House-passed standalone defense funding bill, which is expected to fail at a procedural vote.

The deal would increase defense spending almost $100 billion in 2018, a more-than-15 percent increase over 2017 base-plus-OCO spending.

The budget agreement would also negate the president's demands to broadly reorder government with deep cuts to domestic programs like environmental protection, foreign aid and health research that were to offset large increases in military spending.

The GOP-controlled House is slated Tuesday to pass a plan to keep the government open for six more weeks while Washington grapples with a potential follow-up budget pact and, perhaps, immigration legislation.

The deal also will help Upstate dairy farmers, retired Teamsters in Syracuse caught in a pension crisis, and New York's effort to fight the opioid crisis, Schumer said after announcing the deal Wednesday afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

It's clear House Republicans will need Democratic votes, but it isn't clear how many Democrats will go along without those assurances.

House Democrats have warned they will not back the deal unless the Republican House Speaker promises to advance separate legislation on immigration policy. The media spotlight will shine on the House Democratic minority possibly withholding votes, the House Republican majority possibly unable to get the votes and the President likely tweeting about it all.

If conservatives and other Republicans abandon the bill en masse ― like they did the last time there was a two-year budget deal ― there might not be enough Democrats even if Pelosi comes around.

Defense hawks have long sought to restore funding for military programs that saw their budgets shrunk as a result of the automatic, across-the-board cuts that were part of a deal to avoid previous shutdowns. Sen.

The Senate still plans to vote on a standalone defense funding bill Wednesday. It also includes disaster relief for areas hit by last year's hurricanes and wildfires.

Congressional leaders are looking at combined increases of more than $80 billion for 2018 and 2019 but have been squabbling over the precise figures as Democrats have pushed for matching increases for domestic agencies.

Pelosi made the announcement as she commandeered the House floor in an unusual maneuver, using rules that allow House leaders to speak on the floor as long as they want.