All sides claim victory in bipartisan budget deal
Republican leaders, top Democrats and President Donald Trump are all claiming big wins in the $400 billion budget agreement signed into law Friday. But the push to pass the massive legislation underscored enduring divisions within both parties, and those rifts are likely to make the next fight over immigration even more challenging.
In Washington’s latest display of governance by brinkmanship, the bipartisan accord bolstering military and domestic programs and deepening federal deficits crossed the finish line just before dawn – but not before the government shut down overnight.
Passage left nerves frayed and Democrats with little leverage to force congressional action on their most high-profile priority: preventing deportation of hundreds of thousands of the young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and remain here without permanent legal protection.
Lawmakers rushed to limit the disruption and impact over the lapse in government funding, voting in the middle of the night to reopen agencies before workers were due to report to the office. It was the government’s second shutdown in three weeks, and most lawmakers were eager to avoid a big show of dysfunction in an election year.
Sen. Rand Paul did not share the urgency. Late Thursday, the tea-party leader and Kentucky Republican put the brakes on the bill in protest over Congress’ sudden willingness to embrace big deficit spending. Paul noted that he and many in his party railed against deficit when Democrats held the White House, but now seemed willing to look the other way with Republicans in control.
He said he hoped his stand would teach conservatives “to not accept just anything because it comes from a GOP Congress.”
Paul’s call clearly angered Republican leaders – Sen. John Cornyn called it “grossly irresponsible” – and it exposed a contradiction that may come to haunt Republicans as they try to fire up conservatives in midterm elections.
The budget measure provides Pentagon spending increases sought by Trump and the GOP, more money for domestic agencies demanded by Democrats and $89 billion that both wanted for disaster relief. The two-year pact, which also continues the government’s authority to borrow money, postpones any possible federal default or likely shutdowns until after the November elections.