The US Senate today reached a rare bipartisan compromise to avert another crippling government shutdown by reaching a two-year budget deal to raise spending on military and domestic programmes by almost USD 300 billion.
The deal, agreed upon by both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, was immediately welcomed by the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced the budget deal in the House of Representatives.
“I am very pleased to announce that we have reached a two-year budget deal to lift the spending caps for defence and urgent domestic priorities far above current spending levels,” Schumer said.
He added that there were still a few final details to work out but all the principles of the agreement were in place.
“The budget deal does not have everything Democrats want, it does not have everything the Republicans want, but it has a great deal of what the American people want,” Schumer said in his speech on the House Floor.
He said the budget deal was a “genuine breakthrough” after months of legislative logjams.
“After months of fiscal brinkmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship. And it should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this Congress and hampered our middle class,” Schumer said. The US government officially shutdown on January 20 for the first time in five years after the Senate rejected a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government running.
The shutdown gradually ended after Trump signed a bill to end the shutdown after striking a deal with Democrats to hold a debate on the future of over 700,000 young undocumented immigrants, including thousands of Indians.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said it was pleasing that Congress has been able to meet the Trump administration’s defence spending requirement and come together on a two-year spending bill.
“This bill achieves our top priority, a much-needed increase in funding for our national defence. This still also increases budget caps, ends the sequester, and provides certainty for the next two years,” she told reporters.
Sanders said defence spending will match the request made by the Pentagon and will reflect what the President Donald Trump signed into law with the National Defence Authorisation Act.
“The bottom line is that we can now have the strongest military we have ever had,” she said.
“Additionally, this bill increases the debt ceiling till March of 2019, which moves us away from crisis-to-crisis budgeting. It also ensures funding for our other critical priorities, including rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, tackling the opioids epidemic and taking care of our great veterans,” Sanders said.
Making an appearance in the White House briefing room, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he felt happy that Congress recognises the “sobering effect” of budgetary uncertainty on America’s military and on the men and women who provide for the nation’s defence.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said with this agreement they are breaking the logjam on a number of priorities for the American people.
However, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she would oppose the deal unless Ryan agrees to a commitment to consider legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants.