Senate leaders’ budget deal faces opposition in both parties
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders hope to approve a budget deal today to keep the government operating past midnight amid opposition from Democratic liberals and tea-party Republicans. The agreement would shower the Pentagon and domestic programs with an extra $300 billion over the next two years.
The measure was a win for Republican allies of the Pentagon and for Democrats seeking more for infrastructure projects and combatting opioid abuse.
But it represented a bitter defeat for many liberal Democrats who sought to use the party’s leverage on the budget to resolve the plight of immigrant “Dreamers” who face deportation after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The deal does not address immigration. And some tea party Republicans shredded the measure as a budget-buster.
Beyond the $300 billion figure, the agreement adds almost $90 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Senate leaders hope to approve the measure Thursday and send it to the House for a confirming vote before the government begins to shut down Thursday at midnight. But hurdles remain to avert the second shutdown in a month.
While Senate Democrats celebrated the moment of rare bipartisanship — Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “genuine breakthrough” — progressives and activists blasted them for leaving immigrants in legislative limbo. Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, herself a key architect of the budget plan, announced her opposition Wednesday morning and mounted a remarkable daylong speech on the House floor, trying to force GOP leaders in the House to promise a later vote on legislation to protect the younger immigrants.
“Let Congress work its will,” Pelosi said, before holding the floor for more than eight hours without a break. “What are you afraid of?”
The White House backed the deal — despite President Donald Trump’s outburst a day earlier that he’d welcome a government shutdown if Democrats didn’t accept his immigration-limiting proposals.
Trump himself tweeted that the agreement “is so important for our great Military,” and he urged both Republicans and Democrats to support it.
But the plan faced criticism from deficit hawks in his own party.
Combined with the party’s December tax cut bill, the burst in military and other spending would put the GOP-controlled government on track for the first $1 trillion-plus deficits since President Barack Obama’s first term. That’s when Congress passed massive stimulus legislation to try to stabilize a down-spiraling economy.