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Senate leaders announce budget deal with huge spending increases

11 February 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Wednesday that he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have reached a budget agreement to avoid a government shutdown.

Questions remain as to whether Senate Democrats will continue to insist that any deal provide "parity" between increases in defense and non-defense spending above the caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Republicans will have trouble trying to pass a stop-gap funding bill through the Senate; Democrats want to match increases in non-defense to defense spending for the year. It includes money for the military for a year and community health centers for two years, and shifts Medicare funds.

The Senate on Wednesday reached a bipartisan agreement that would allocate a defense budget of $700 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $716 billion for FY 2019, Defense News reported Wednesday. It would include a $35 billion boost in defense spending through the end of September, and fund the rest of government until March 23.

However, McConnell said he anticipates Congress will pass one last another short-term bill by Thursday that will be needed to provide enough time to write and prepare the legislation to accommodate the new agreement.

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Democrats had said they wanted to see more assurances on immigration negotiations before moving ahead with the caps deal, but rank-and-file Republicans said they sensed more flexibility from Democrats in recent days.

"I'm afraid the numbers will get so high and the debt ceiling will be added and it will be a Christmas tree of spending - that a lot of votes will be bought", he said on CNN.

The House bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate, likely Wednesday. Why?

A bipartisan deal to keep the government funded past midnight hit a major snag Thursday, as a last-minute maneuver in the Senate by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul to protest spending hikes raised the specter of another shutdown. But Democrats mostly voted against it.

The measure, aides said, also contains nearly $90 billion in overdue disaster aid and an increase in the government borrowing cap that would prevent a first-ever US government default on its obligations.

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But as senate minority leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the deal on the senate floor, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, warned that Democrats could not support a Bill without some commitment to tackle immigration.

Some House Republicans don't like it because of its large increase in federal spending and its potential effects on the deficit and debt.

"We all know that our military might is part of our nation's strength", Pelosi said on the House floor earlier on Tuesday. There's also $6 billion to combat opioid abuse and improving mental health, and $2 billion for research at the National Institutes of Health.

In the end, however, Democrats declined to hold the spending bill hostage over immigration.

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Senate leaders announce budget deal with huge spending increases