Friday, 24 May, 2019

Senate leaders announce two-year budget deal

Sen. Rand Paul is shown here in an April 2014 interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader Sen. Rand Paul is shown here in an April 2014 interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader
Patty Aguilar | 10 February, 2018, 00:25

Democrats on the left, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, were frustrated to see a budget deal negotiated that resolved virtually every Democratic priority except a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children that President Donald Trump chose to terminate in September.

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

"I can't in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits", Paul said on the Senate floor.

With all of the various battle lines being drawn and hard stances being taken, it would surprise no one if the budget plan that should pass smoothly through the Senate hits more than one snag in the House.

"This bill is a product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House".

The deal, announced Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, would bump spending for both defense and nondefense programs while also fulfilling various policy goals from both sides of the aisle.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a "a genuine breakthrough..."

The deal also provides nearly $90bn for disaster relief efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, which have been hard-hit by hurricanes in the past year.

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The Senate deal provides $70billion for disaster relief for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, which are still recovering from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, respectively; $20 billion for infrastructure; and $6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.

In addition to Paul's objections, it is also unclear whether enough House Democrats will support the package.

Late on Thursday, as Senator Paul continued to delay the vote, the White House said it was preparing for a possible shutdown. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supports the measure, but many in his majority caucus have announced opposition to the bill.

Congress has until midnight to pass some sort of a budget deal or risk a second government shutdown this year. Pelosi said on the House floor on Wednesday.

The higher spending from the deal would add to an expanding federal budget deficit that Steve Bell, a former Senate Budget Committee staff director, forecast would reach as much as $1 trillion next year.

Liberal Democrats meanwhile opposed the deal because it does not include an agreement to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers", young people brought illegally to the United States as children.

Just three weeks ago, a similar failure to agree on a new budget in January resulted in a U.S. government shutdown for three days, with scores of federal agencies across America unable to continue operating.

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