Senate leaders agree to 2-year spending deal worth $400B

  • Senate leaders agree to 2-year spending deal worth $400B

Senate leaders agree to 2-year spending deal worth $400B

The almost $400 billion deal does not include Trump's $25 billion request for a wall on the southern US border, though "it also doesn't rule out" the financing, a top Republican Senate aide told Newsmax.

Democrats secured higher domestic spending levels than most Republicans support, as well as funds to combat the opioid crisis, improve veterans' health care, and fund the Children's Health Insurance Program for a decade.

A Senate agreement to raise domestic spending along with Pentagon funding would likely be met by objections from conservative House Republicans, potentially forcing House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to rely on Democratic votes to pass the measure.

The budget negotiations, conducted chiefly by the Senate's top leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer of NY, have intensified in recent days - and the looming government shutdown at midnight Thursday added urgency to the talks.

The Senate is slated next week to begin a debate to address the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

"I hope we can build on this bipartisan momentum and make 2018 a year of significant achievement for Congress, for our constituents and for the country that we all love", McConnell said. Pelosi's statement reveals the deep schisms within the Democratic Party between those willing to show some flexibility now after a three-day shutdown and those who are dug in on immigration.

The deal would establish budget caps for the next two years, but appropriators need time to draft spending bills for the rest of the year.

The only solution to the puzzle could be a broad, bipartisan agreement that increases both defense and nondefense spending though 2019 - a deal that has been in the works for months but has been repeatedly derailed by immigration and other issues. As the Senate leaders were announcing their agreement, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was holding the floor in the House, declaring she would oppose the measure unless her chamber's GOP leaders promised a vote on legislation to protect the younger immigrants.

What the Senate deal does not include is any new language on immigration.

"The bottom line is that we can now have the strongest military we have ever had", she said. "Republicans in Congress should step away from Chuck Schumer's negotiating table and work to pass a budget that balances by making tough choices and eliminates our more than $20 trillion in debt". The Treasury Department has been warning that without an extension in borrowing authority from Congress, the government would run out of borrowing options in the first half of March. Budget gimmicks would be used to add more domestic spending, allowing Democrats to claim that the cap increase treats defense and non-defense equally.

"I would be very surprised if more than a couple of the Freedom Caucus members would vote yes", Meadows said.

Until now, Senate Republicans had remained mute in response to the shouts from Democrats that the bill's massive volume precludes transparency and even that the budget tie-in could be unconstitutional. Nor would it increase border security or provide funding for a southern border wall. The Senate leadership reached their legislative breakthrough the old-fashioned way: by throwing a bunch of money at both parties' priorities, and punting on the divisive question of whether a vulnerable minority group deserves basic rights.