February 22, 2018

Senate majority leader announces 2-year budget accord

12 February 2018, 01:26 | Taylor George

Senate majority leader announces 2-year budget accord

Budget Deal Is a Big Win for Republicans

After a brief overnight shutdown, a proposed spending bill was passed in the House and signed by President Trump early Friday morning.

The stopgap funding and budget measure, approved by a 240-186 House vote, will go to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.

The US Congress ended a brief government shutdown by reaching a wide-ranging deal that is expected to push budget deficits into the $US1 trillion-a- year zone.

"We have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits", Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday night.

Some Democrats, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi, also said they opposed the measure because it did not include a deal that would protect some 700,000 "Dreamers" - immigrants brought to the USA illegally as children - from deportation.

US Senator Rand Paul forced a temporary government shutdown on Friday to lecture his GOP colleagues about fiscal responsibility, but the lesson they took away was probably not the one the Kentucky Republican intended.

The bipartisan budget deal will lift strict budget caps and pave the way for lawmakers to spend an extra $300 billion over the next two years on defense and domestic programs. With no offsets in the form of other spending cuts or new tax revenues, that additional spending will be financed by borrowed money. It was the government's second shutdown in three weeks, and most lawmakers were eager to avoid a big show of dysfunction in an election year.

"I wonder about the end-game of people who keep us here till one o'clock and achieve nothing", said Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.

The Republican Party was once known for fiscal conservatism, but congressional Republicans and Trump are now quickly expanding the United States budget deficit and its $20 trillion national debt.

The major funding commitments come on the heels of passage of a massive tax cut law, adding to the concerns of those anxious about fiscal responsibility.

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It also extends the U.S. government's borrowing authority until March 2019, sparing Washington politicians hard votes on debt and deficits until after mid-term congressional elections in November. The most promising outcome may be a narrow bill extending DACA protections for a year or so and providing some border security money for Trump.

Richmond also joined Graves in criticizing provisions in the $89 billion disaster-relief package tacked on to the massive spending deal.

With the budget worries finally put to rest, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has promised that open debates will begin on immigration reform, an issue that derailed budget negotiations three weeks ago. But they're likely to follow closely the defense policy bill approved by Congress late past year.

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of SC said $160 billion in the bill will be used "to rebuild a military that's in decline".

Congress has been dragging its heels on passing a long-term budget deal, which lead to a short government shutdown last month.

On Sept. 5, President Trump terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era initiative that has protected almost 800,000 of them from deportation.

Republicans disagreed with former President Barack Obama's trillion-dollar deficits, but it appears they support their own, with the exception of Sen. "I refuse to accept that in order to address our most urgent priorities we must leave hundreds of thousands of Dreamers behind".

Pelosi and other Democrats have called on House Speaker Paul Ryan, hold open debate on immigration legislation, but so far Ryan has resisted, saying he will only bring up a bill that Trump supports.

"Give us a chance to allay the fear that is in the hearts of these Dreamers and their families, and remove the tears from the Statue of Liberty observing what is happening here", she said.

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