UPDATE: Congress passes 2-year budget legislation, Trump signs

UPDATE — 2/9, 9:06 a.m. EST: Following a brief shutdown early Friday morning, President Trump has signed a bill funding the government through the third week of March, which will pave the way for a two-year spending plan by also raising the federal debt limit until March 2019.

The Senate finally passed H.R.1892 after midnight over the objections of Kentucky’s Rand Paul by a count of 71–28. The House followed suit, as the bill garnered enough support from pragmatic Democrats and moderate Republicans to pass by a count of 240–186.

“No” House votes included 67 Republicans, who were concerned about debt issues, and over 100 Democrats objecting to a lack of DACA protections.

 

In the hopes of averting another government shutdown, the top Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal Wednesday which would raise spending by $300 billion and address key budget priorities.

Announcing a deal had been reached, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned Defense Secretary James Mattis’ remarks over the harm done to the military through sequestration and said:

“First and foremost, this bipartisan agreement will unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security.”

Without referencing specific merits of the agreement, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) said on the Senate floor:

“I believe we have reached a budget deal that neither side loves but both sides can be proud of.” 

Under the agreement, the debt ceiling would be suspended until March 1, 2019, and discretionary spending would increase by 21 percent over current cap levels instituted in 2011.

Specifically, $90 billion would be allocated for hurricane and wildfire disaster aid, defense spending would grow by $80 billion for fiscal 2018, with an another $5 billion attached for fiscal 2019 beginning Oct. 1, and non-defense spending is set at $62 billion with $5 billion affixed for fiscal 2019.

Both McConnell and Schumer designed the two-year bill to include a short-term spending measure to fund the government through March 23.

The plan also includes $6 billion to combat the opioid crisis, $20 billion for a partial funding for infrastructure, $2 billion for the National Institute of Health, and $4 billion to assist in paying for students’ college tuition.

The plan also extends the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for four years.

Despite tackling prime budgetary concerns, little enthusiasm was generated by House Democrats.  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi embarked on a marathon eight-hour speech on the House floor demanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections be covered by the bill.

“This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House. Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” Pelosi said in response to the unveiling of the Senate plan.

Pelosi’s was the longest floor speech in the history of the House of Representatives, according to the Office of the House Historian.

On Thursday, Pelosi continued in her opposition to the bill, but will not try convince her Democratic colleagues to vote against it, saying she is “pleased with the product,” not with the process.

On the other side of the aisle, conservative House Republicans, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), declared the Senate measure “fiscally irresponsible,” while Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said it was “doubling down on the irresponsible mentality in Congress of spend-now-pay-later.”

“This spending bill is a debt junkie’s dream,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). “I’m not only a no, I’m a hell no.”

Although McConnell had pledged to bring a DACA bill to the Senate floor, House Speaker Paul Ryan has stated no “Dreamer” bill will emerge in the House without President Trump’s full support.

The House is expected to vote on the bill following a Thursday vote in the Senate.

 

Editor’s note: This article was updated 2/8 @ 2:47 p.m. EST and corrected as to the length of the CHIP funding extension.

 

[Roll Call] [Washington Post] [AP] [Politico] [The Hill] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Al Drago/New York Times via San Antonio Express-News]

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