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Senate Leaders Reach Deal to Raise Spending Over Two Years - The N...



WASHINGTON — Senate leaders struck a far-reaching bipartisan agreement on
Wednesday that would add hundreds of billions of dollars to military and domestic
programs over the next two years while raising the federal debt limit, moving to end
the cycle of fiscal showdowns that have roiled the Capitol.

The accord between Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority

leader, and Chuck Schumer of New York, 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.

The deal would raise the spending caps by about $300 billion over two years.
The limit on military spending would be increased by $80 billion in the current fiscal
year and $85 billion in the next year, which begins Oct. 1. The limit on nondefense
spending would increase by $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year.

But the accord was not without dramatics. Representative Nancy Pelosi of
California, the House Democratic leader, took to the House floor Wednesday
morning in opposition, protesting that the measure included nothing to protect
young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. She then delivered a

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Senate Leaders Reach Deal to Raise Spending Over Two Years - The N...

record-breaking speech that tied up the House for the entire day and into the night.

The budget agreement, coming just a day after President Trump threatened to
shut down the government, would effectively negate Mr. Trump’s demands to
broadly reorder government with deep cuts to nondefense programs like
environmental protection, foreign aid and health research that were to offset large
increases in military spending. Mr. Trump is to release his second budget request on
Monday, but the deal — championed by the top congressional leaders from his own
party — amounts to an unequivocal rebuke of many of the budgetary demands he
has put forth.

The deal would give Mr. Trump bragging rights for a major military. “The bottom
line is that, thanks to President Trump, we can now have the strongest military we
have ever had,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on

But it could put an end to the fiscal crises that Mr. Trump has seemed to thrive
on — at least for the next two years.

Nonetheless, the president threw his weight behind the accord on Wednesday
evening and said “Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support
this Bill!”

Donald J. Trump

The Budget Agreement today is so important for our

great Military. It ends the dangerous sequester and
gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep
America Great. Republicans and Democrats must
support our troops and support this Bill!
5:36 PM - Feb 7, 2018

28 5K 12 1K people are talking about this

If the deal passes on Thursday, lawmakers would then put together a long-term
spending package over the coming weeks that would fund the government through

midterm elections in November. Heading into the midterm elections, it would also

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Senate Leaders Reach Deal to Raise Spending Over Two Years - The N...

enable lawmakers to go home and claim success at delivering funding for pressing
needs, like fighting the opioid epidemic.

By setting overall spending levels through September 2019, the deal would ease
passage of spending legislation in the next fiscal year as well.

The agreement will cause federal budget deficits to grow even larger, on top of
the effects of the sweeping tax overhaul that lawmakers approved in December. But
because the deal gives long-sought victories to both parties, the deficit impact
appears to be of little concern. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Speaker Paul D.
Ryan of Wisconsin both quickly embraced it.

From the increase in domestic spending, Mr. Schumer said the deal includes
$20 billion for infrastructure, $6 billion for the opioid crisis and mental health, $5.8
billion for child care and $4 billion for Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics. It also
includes disaster relief for areas hit by last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.

The agreement includes an additional four-year extension of funding for the

Children’s Health Insurance Program, on top of the six-year extension that Congress
approved last month, according to Mr. Schumer.

The deal also extends the debt limit until March 2019, pushing any future
confrontation over that issue until after the midterm elections. The Congressional
Budget Office recently projected that the Treasury would probably run out of cash in
the first half of March if the limit were not raised.

“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,” Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. Schumer was similarly effusive.

“After month of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough,”

he said. “After months of fiscal brinkmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout
of bipartisanship.”

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because of this agreement.” His embrace boosted its chances in the House, where
conservatives were cool to it, if not hostile.

Hard-line conservatives were unsparing in their assessment.

“This is a dead-end path that will cause great hardship to Americans,”

proclaimed Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama. “And if you really
look at it out long term and see the cascading effects, it is going to cost a lot of
Americans their lives.”

Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, called the deal “a betrayal of everything
limited government conservatism stands for.”

The agreement also sparked opposition from the leader of House Democrats,
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who said she could not agree to any
budget deal that was not accompanied by a promise to vote on legislation in the
House to protect the fate of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as
children, known as Dreamers.

“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 number of members of our caucus,” Ms. Pelosi said on the House
floor, where she delivered a marathon speech about Dreamers that stretched for

She was referring to a promise by Mr. McConnell to begin debate on

immigration soon, a commitment not matched by Mr. Ryan. But Mr. Ryan did not
rush to offer the assurance that Ms. Pelosi sought.

“Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and

immigration reform bill — one that the president supports,” a spokeswoman for Mr.
Ryan, AshLee Strong, said, referring to the Obama-era program that shields
Dreamers from deportation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The budget deal would be paired with a stopgap spending measure that would

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to follow afterward.

It was not clear if enough Democrats would oppose the bill to imperil its passage
in the House, given the likely opposition from at least some fiscal conservatives. If
lawmakers cannot pass a temporary funding measure by the end of Thursday —
either tied to the budget pact or by itself — the government would shut down for the
second time this year.

Only on Tuesday, Mr. Trump was trying to engage in fiscal brinkmanship,

threatening another government shutdown if his hard-line demands on immigration
were not met.

“I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Mr. Trump
said then. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety,” he
added, “then shut it down.”

But budget negotiators seemed to pay him little heed.

“While President Trump threatens shutdowns and stalemates, congressional

leaders have done the hard work of finding compromise and consensus,” Mr.
Schumer said. He added, “At the end of the day, I believe we have reached a budget
deal that neither side loves, but both sides can be proud of.”

The deal had eluded negotiators for months, as it became intertwined with
delicate negotiations on other matters, particularly the contentious issue of

But after last month’s three-day government shutdown, Senate Democrats were
willing to finalize a budget deal separately from the debate over immigration.

The deal also makes for another lonely day for lawmakers concerned about the
budget deficit, which was already expected to reach $1 trillion in the next fiscal year,
according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog

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Senate Leaders Reach Deal to Raise Spending Over Two Years - The N...

the deficit even further.

“This deal represents budgeting at its worst — each party is giving the other its
wish list with all the bells and whistles included and asking future generations to
pick up the tab,” said Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a
Responsible Federal Budget.

The deal drew scorn from conservative groups angered by the big increase in

Jason Pye, the vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, said the
deal “isn’t just fiscally irresponsible, it’s an abomination.”

“No one in Congress who claims that they’re a deficit hawk or a fiscal
conservative can justifiably vote for this deal,” he said.

Follow Thomas Kaplan on Twitter: @thomaskaplan.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Patricia Mazzei from New

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