Congressional Leaders Say They Agree on Budget Deal

02/07/18 01:05 PM EST
By Kristina Peterson 

WASHINGTON -- Congressional leaders said Wednesday they have reached an agreement on a two-year budget deal, charting a path out of the long-running turmoil over spending and immigration that culminated in a government shutdown last month.

The agreement raises federal spending by almost $300 billion over two years above limits imposed by a 2011 budget law. If approved by the GOP-controlled Congress, the deal would mark the triumph of defense hawks, who have pushed for higher military spending, over the dwindling number of conservatives focused on reducing the federal budget deficit.

The budget deal would raise military spending by $80 billion through the rest of fiscal year, which runs through September, and by $85 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to a congressional aide familiar with the agreement.

Congressional leaders also agreed to raise nondefense spending by $63 billion in this fiscal year and $68 billion the following year, according to the aide, addressing demands from Democrats, who had pushed for boosting domestic spending.

The budget deal would set the overall spending levels for the next two fiscal years, but lawmakers will need several weeks to translate that into detailed spending legislation. Congress will need to pass a short-term spending bill this week to avoid a government shutdown when its current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The House on Tuesday night passed a spending bill that would keep the Defense Department funded through September and the rest of the government through March 23. The Senate is likely to strip out the military funding and include the two-year budget agreement, lawmakers said this week.

But the spending package faces a bumpy road in the House, where conservatives are likely to object to the big increase in federal spending. GOP leaders will need Democratic votes to pass it in the House.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Wednesday morning she would oppose an emerging two-year budget caps deal unless House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) makes a broad commitment to bring an immigration bill up for a vote.

"The budget caps agreement includes many Democratic priorities," Mrs. Pelosi said Wednesday morning, referring to items such as funding for community health centers, combating the opioid epidemic, medical research and infrastructure projects. But without a pledge for a coming immigration vote, "this package does not have my support," she said.

Still, other House Democrats are expected to vote for the package despite their leader's objection.

The two-year budget deal would separate efforts to keep the government funded from an immigration fight over the fate of undocumented immigrants called Dreamers, who were brought to the country at a young age. President Donald Trump in September ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that shielded them from deportation, but gave Congress until March 5 to pass its replacement.

As part of an agreement to end a three-day partial government shutdown last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) pledged to bring an immigration bill to the Senate floor. But on the House side, Mr. Ryan has said he would bring an immigration bill to the floor only if it is backed by Mr. Trump.

"We're not going to bring immigration legislation through that the president doesn't support," Mr. Ryan told reporters Tuesday.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan. reiterated that stance Wednesday.

"Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill -- one that the president supports."

--Natalie Andrews contributed to this article.

Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 07, 2018 13:05 ET (18:05 GMT)

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