Congressional leaders have reportedly agreed on a two-year deal to lift strict budget caps on defense and domestic spending, which would end the stopgap spending bills and shutdown threats that have made headlines the past few months.
The budget agreement would boost defense spending this year by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion. A plan to lift the debt ceiling and possibly to extend some expiring tax provisions could be attached to the deal as well.
The agreement was announced after the House passed a bill yesterday to boost Pentagon spending over the next eight months while funding domestic programs at current levels through March 23. The House bill appealed to fiscal hawks in the House who wanted financial certainty for the Defense Department only. The House bill never stood a chance in the Senate though, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) knew he needed Democrats to help get a budget deal passed.
“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House,” McConnell said last night. “No one would suggest it’s perfect. But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the compromise will help support America’s military but also address the opioid problem and a host of other pressing domestic concerns.
“The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want; it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has what the American people need,” Schumer said.
The Senate is expected to approve the budget deal today but it will then face a more uncertain future in the House. Not only are hard-line conservatives opposed to the new spending for domestic programs, House Democrats are being urged to vote against the bill too because it does not include a deal to protect immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she will vote against the budget deal, but will not whip her caucus to vote the same way. Pelosi, who gave an eight-hour speech on the House floor yesterday to fight for DACA protections, said she supports the lifting of budget caps for defense and non-defense programs but wants assurances from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that DACA will be addressed.