Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Senate Leaders Reveal Spending Deal As Shutdown Looms

Senate Leaders Reveal Spending Deal As Shutdown Looms

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced they had reached a bipartisan two-year budget deal that doesn't fund the government, but lifts spending limits imposed on the military and non-defense domestic programs.

The legislation also would authorize the energy department to make sales from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve, extend financing for community health care centers for two years and make modifications to medicare, such as repealing a payment cap for therapy services. House GOP appropriators unveiled the short-term spending bill, known as continuing resolution (CR), that would also fund the military at increased levels through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30. The House voted 240 to 186 in support of a bipartisan package to extend USA government funding till March 23.

The Senate has passed a massive, bipartisan budget agreement and spending bill to reopen the shuttered federal government.

The deal, agreed upon by both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, was immediately welcomed by the White House.

"We are closer to an agreement than we have ever been", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on the Senate floor Tuesday.

"I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits", the Kentucky senator said.

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

The US House of Representatives have passed a stopgap spending bill to fund the government through late March.

An agreement on the caps could incentivize lawmakers from both parties to avoid another shutdown showdown, though some Democrats still want to hold out for more demands on new protections for young illegal immigrant "Dreamers" - a sticking point that helped contribute to a three-day partial shutdown of the government last month.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus has already indicated it will not support the spending increases. Bloomberg reports that the increased spending would be partially offset by cuts to mandatory spending programs, according to the Republican summary. "I want people to feel uncomfortable", Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday night before the shutdown began. The White House is also demanding funding for a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border, a reduction in legal immigration to the United States, and prioritizing newcomers with advanced work skills.

"The compromise we've reached will ensure that for the first time in years, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe", he said. That would provide time for lawmakers to flesh out legislation for the longer-term spending framework.

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