February 18, 2019

What's in the whopping budget deal Congress passed?

11 February 2018, 09:10 | Devin Moran

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The massive two-year budget deal proposed by Senate leaders Wednesday raises budget caps by $300 billion in the next two years, increases the debt ceiling and offers up almost $90 billion in disaster relief for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

"A fifth CR, while one party controls all levels of government, shows the Republicans' inability to govern", said House Democrat Nita Lowey, referring to continuing resolutions that keep the government funded at the same level as the previous year.

Paul delayed the Senate vote on a spending package past midnight by giving a speech sharply critical of his colleagues, later calling for a debate on whether government spending caps should be lifted.

Trump announced the signing on his Twitter account, hailing the bill's passage in the early hours of Friday as a boost for the United States military and "JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!"

"If we have to shut it down because the Democrats do not want safety, and unrelated but still related, they do not want to take care of our military, then shut it down", the president said.

The second shutdown in less than a month ended early this morning with votes in both the House and the Senate. He pushed for an amendment to maintain budget caps and also criticized Republicans for reckless spending.

The latest measure on the budget has angered some Republicans, while many Democrats are upset by the lack of concessions on immigration issues.

The bill also provides $80 billion in disaster relief for hurricane devastated areas in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, as well as aid for places affected by wildfires. Republicans would use that as a campaign slogan every single election from here to eternity, and yet here we have Republicans twice in four weeks shutting down the federal government and acting as if it's somehow the Democrats' fault.

There are good elements in this deal: It protects funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program for a full decade, ending the cruel limbo parents and children in the program had lived with since Congress let funding lapse last fall.

But frustrations were clear in both sides of the Capitol, where just hours earlier leaders had been optimistic that the budget deal was a sign they had left behind some of their chronic dysfunction.

"The reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot", Paul said on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans said Rand Paul was right to criticize oversight of government spending before the passage of the new two year spending bill. And anytime Republicans and Democrats agree on anything these days, some measure of praise is in order. A few hours later, racing the bill through procedures that normally take hours, the House passed the bill 240-186, with 67 Republicans and 119 Democrats opposed, and 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats in favor. Ultimately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed to hold votes on an unspecified immigration bill in return for Democrats' votes to reopen the government for three more weeks.

The US government technically ran out of money at the stroke of midnight.

Dreamers were shielded from deportation under the Obama-era programme called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca). Rand Paul of Kentucky went rogue and stalled a vote in protest over his party's willingness to bust the budget. Such debt limit votes are usually enormous headaches for GOP leaders, but the increase means another vote won't occur before March 2019.

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